With the growing worldwide appeal of Hello Kitty and her iconically illustrated pack of animal friends it is no wonder that the Sanrio characters even have their own insanely elaborate theme park.
Built in 1990, Sanrio Puroland is any Sanrio fan’s dream. Not unlike Disneylands across the globe (including the one in Japan), the bright, loud, and eye-poppingly ornate theme park allows visitors to mix and mingle with their favorite super-deformed animals, not just Hello Kitty. They can visit Badtz Maru the penguin’s cave, Keroppi the frog’s pond, or even Hello Kitty’s own house in which everything is shaped like her head.
The effect of walking through a blaring candy-colored cartoon is broken only by the live stage shows and fireworks around each turn, all of which is presented in a distinctly over-the-top and uniquely Japanese style. Of course there are also rides, such as the innocuously named “Sanrio Character Boat Ride,” which is near identical to the It’s A Small World ride at California’s Disneyland, simply seen through a hyperactive pastel lens.
Despite the similarities to Mickey Mouse’s various wonderlands, Puroland is still unique among theme parks in its singular devotion to saccharine cuteness. Most people are well aware of Hello Kitty’s influence around the world, but again, much like Disneyland opened visitors’ eyes to their vast world of marketable Western animation beyond their iconic mouse, Puroland proves that Sanrio has just as deep a bench if you can handle the sweetness.
Know Before You Go
About a 10-minute walk from Tama-Center Station; to get here from central Tokyo, take the Keiō Line train from Shinjuku Station, which should be roughly 35 minutes' ride.