Hello Kitty takes tourists around Tokyo with colorful digital gusto
Out of the many cultural icons born in Japan, Hello Kitty is perhaps most iconic of them all, synonymous with a playful-style of anime that has resonated with people from across the globe.
Visit Japan, also known as the Japan Toursim Agency, has capitalized on this worldwide obsession in a digitally native way – a Hello Kitty iPhone app. Yes, Hello Kitty is now available as tour guide for your next visit to Japan!
Simply download the app, open it up, and take a picture. Hello Kitty will magically appear to tell the user more about that particular place of interest. Hello Kitty will appear each time in an outfit specifically chosen for that place of interest.
The kittys take users around all the prefectures: Hokkaido, Tohoku, Kanto, Hokurikushin-etsu, Chubu, Kinki, Chugoku, Shikoku, Kyushu, Okinawa…all 47 prefectures are blessed with their own iterations of Hello Kitty.
There are 53 Hello Kitty characters total, each one relating as closely as possible to the place they represent. For example, city of Miyazaki features a surfing Hello Kitty as the area is a popular surfing spot. The Miyazaki food culture is represented by the Huganatsu citrus fruit popular in the prefecture featured in the background.
Each character is actually quite fun, and will most certainly translate into big bucks as both tourists and local fans snap up the related place-specific merchandise. In fact, the app developers are encouraging this through the “Nearby HELLO KITTY Retailers” section below each image.
Alas, the app only works in Japan, as it uses the phone’s GPS to determine exactly which icon the user is standing in front of. The user takes a picture of the location, and the app places Hello Kitty in the shot for social sharing. In addition, users can also save a collection of various Hello Kitty pictures.
Kind of a pity, really, that this doesn’t work everywhere. It’s not difficult to envision a full viral assault of people posting photos with Hello Kitty dressed in various Japan-specific outfits. Imagine Hello Kitty standing beside a favorite local spot, providing users the opportunity to send a “Wish I Was in Japan” postcard with Hello Kitty out to their social networks – it would add a component that everyone in the world could participate in.
The bonus here is the ability to browse all the characters, and learn a bit more about what makes each area of Japan unique. Overall, this app is whimsical, fun and silly – a few of the elements that make a viral hit, and Hello Kitty fits right in.
Nick Vivion was a reporter (and later also global events lead) for Tnooz between August 2012 and July 2015. He was the launch co-founder of Booty's, a global street food restaurant in New Orleans and was recently AVP Operations, North America at Zomato.