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Japan Newest Ambassador is a Cartoon?

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Japan is a country that has long been known for good design.  The clean lines, simple forms and often rustic materials common in many homes and furnishings , are coveted by consumers and copied by designers around the world.  The eye-popping modernism of Tokyo nightclubs continually pushes the envelope of just how far interior design can go.  But Japan has focused on a different sort of design icon in its quest to attract 10 million overseas visitors to their island nation's shores.  Forget rustic serenity or futuristic adventure for Japan, style is all about a cartoon cat.  We're talking, of course, about Hello Kitty.

Since her launch by the Sanrio company in 1974, the large-headed, nearly expressionless symbol of all things cute seems to grow in popularity every year.  Today, Hello Kitty who first appeared on a plastic coin purse even graces couture fashions, fine jewelry and appliances.  And apparently, her following extends far beyond her native shores.  Which is why, on May 19, Hello Kitty was "hired" by Japan's tourism ministry to help attract visitors from China and Hong Kong.  Strangely, Miss Kitty herself doesn't even live in Japan.  According to her company "biography," she makes her home in London.  No word if she plans to relocate.    


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