Immerse Yourself In Weirdness at Tama's Hello Kitty Museum
Navigating Tokyo itself - a dizzying maze of twenty-three wards, each technically a city unto itself - is difficult enough. Now throw in the twenty-six additional cities that comprise Western Tokyo, the combination of rail and metro lines that service them, and the Japanese penchant for hiding all kinds of singular attractions in the most unlikely places. It's just unfair to expect tourists to know where to go or what to see.
The western Tama District contains one of the most quintessentially Japanese - which is to say, one of the most off-beat - attractions in all of Tokyo. At the back of the Tama Center, a sprawling shopping plaza plus hotel plus park, sits Sanrio Puroland. Otherwise known as the Hello Kitty Museum, this is a gigantic indoor theme park turned over to the characters from what might loosely be called the Hello Kitty universe.
It's like a Willy Wonka Factory of weirdness, filled with gigantic dolls and puppets all addressing you in high-pitched Japanese.
The park opened in 1990 and had a rough first few years, but since then it's become one of the most popular attractions in Japan. There are of course the requisite themed restaurants, attractions, and rides. But there are also regular musicals featuring Hello Kitty characters - which are mind-blowingly surreal bordering on insanely creepy - and a somewhat hallucinogenic boat ride through the Sanrio Kingdom. Plus, every night, fireworks.
The theme park is open from 10am to 5pm, and tickets are 3000 yen for adults and 2000 yen for children. Be warned that most of the attractions are exclusively in Japanese, but there is an English pamphlet available. To get to the Tama Center, take either the Keio Sagamihara Line and the Odakyu Tama Line all the way to Tama Center Station.
[Photo: Sanrio Puroland]
· Sanrio Puroland [English]
· Theme Park Coverage [Jaunted]
· Japan Travel Guide [Jaunted]