Super-cute Japanese character Hello Kitty is to have her own theme park in the Odaiba district of Tokyo.
"Hello Kitty's Kawaii Paradise" - "kawaii" is Japanese for "cute" - is scheduled to open on October 22 inside the vast Venus Fort shopping complex in Odaiba, which is undergoing rapid development as it looks to attract both Japanese tourists and travelers from overseas.
The indoor amusement park will have a floor space of more than 890 square meters on the first floor of Venus Fort and PleasureCast Co., the subsidiary of Namco Ltd. that will operate the facility, is expecting more than 700,000 visitors in its first year alone. There are two theme parks, Harmonyland and Sanrio Puroland, run by the company that feature Hello Kitty, but this is the first dedicated to the cute cat.
The new theme park will have a theater that shows animated Hello Kitty films projected onto its domed ceiling in four languages - including English and Chinese - as well as a number of restaurants and shops selling character goods.
The operators of the facility are banking on Hello Kitty's global appeal and the opening later this month of an additional runway and a new terminal building at nearby Haneda Airport. The enlarged airport will be primarily used for short-haul flights from nearby Asian countries.
Foreign tourists already account for 15 percent of visitors to the Venus Fort shopping mall - as well as the waterfront park and shopping district that has been constructed alongside Tokyo Bay.
A vital element of Japanese popular culture, the first Hello Kitty character product was released in 1975 and was quickly seized upon by consumers here. A mind-boggling array of Hello Kitty goods is today on the market, with annual sales of trademark items estimated to be worth $1 billion.
An Airbus A330-200 has been painted in a Hello Kitty livery and Bank of America earlier this year began offering its customers checkbooks and debit cards bearing the cute cat's smiling face and red bow tie.
Hello Kitty has been named as the ambassador of Japanese tourism in China and Hong Kong - where she enjoys huge popularity among children and young women.
The new theme park will undoubtedly prove popular but will face some stiff competition from Tokyo DisneyLand and DisneySea, as well as smaller facilities such as the park dedicated to Thomas the Tank Engine.
Address: Hello Kitty's Kawaii Paradise, Venus Fort 1f., 3-15 Aomi 1-chome, Koto-ku. Tokyo.