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If weíve learned one thing about the world in the last few years, it is that Hello Kitty is only gaining in ubiquity. From airport shops and her own Los Angeles convention to kitty-print toilet paper and every accessory under the sun, the cartoon cat missing a mouth has steamrolled beyond Barbie, the X-Men, and more in her quest for world domination.
Since 2005, that success has included airplanes, with Taiwanese carrier EVA Airways debuting Airbus A330s (and, last year, an extra special Boeing 777-300ER) covered tip to tail in Hello Kitty imagery. When we say tip to tail, we mean even the interior; the Hello Kitty flights, of which there are 6 regular routes originating in Taipei (Los Angeles, Seoul, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Fukuoka, Hokkaido), please passengers with Hello Kitty-theme in-flight shopping, in-flight entertainment, and in-flight meals.
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Hello Kitty is turning 40 this year and Sanrio is inviting all of her fans to help her celebrate this fall.
Hello Kitty Con 2014 will celebrate all things Hello Kitty with exclusive merchandise, pop-up shops, panels and discussions, art installations, photo opps, costumes, workshops, tattoos, and other activities for fans of every age.
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"This Hello Kitty jet is for everyone. On it, every day is a happy day. We are spreading a message of happiness." - EVA Air's Chairman (and Captain) K.W. Chang
In 2005, EVA Air painted Hello Kitty on the side of a plane. Then they did it again in 2006. The two planes turned frowns upside-down for a few years, but went away in 2008. Then, in 2011, we showed you the return of the Hello Kitty planes, though these newest versions only flitted around Asia at the time. Now, the US finally gets in on the kawaii action as the airline debuts their first Hello Kitty Boeing 777 and a first trans-Pacific route for the cute Sanrio character: Taipei to Los Angeles.
"Other airlines only do the exterior job [of theming a plane], but we've done it all," says Chang. "We want everyone to share our world," before connecting to other Star Alliance flights and returning to their world. You've already read the 11 coolest facts about these airplanes, but see exactly what Chang is talking about in our 77 original photos of outside, inside, and all around the new 777:
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It's not every day you see dancing on the tarmac at Los Angeles International Airport, but when that dancing is to celebrate the arrival of a Hello Kitty-themed airplane, it's completely warranted.
Slipping into a gate alongside the tails of 787s, 747-8s and A380s yesterday was EVA Air's brand new Boeing 777-300ER, its body painted all over with the cheery cartoons of Sanrio's Hello Kitty and friends.
Over 70 Hello Kitty enthusiasts were on the inaugural flight, joined by a troupe of Hello Kitty dancers, characters, artists and Hello Kitty's creator herself, Yuko Yamaguchi. The arrival marks the beginning of regular, nonstop flights between LAX and Taipei-Taoyuan for this aircraft, which is arguably the most kawaii addition to aviation since Pokťmon showed up on some 747s. Even as Alaska Airlines' Mickey Mouse plane passed by, all eyes remained on EVA's Kitty.
Before booking a flight, however, there's some things you should know about EVA Air's Hello Kitty 777:
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The carriers over in Japan just canít get enough of wacky airplane liveries and specialty paint jobs, and thatís fine with us because we canít stop talking about them. Japan Airlines is the latest to reveal a fresh look, and itís a brand new tribute to the Hello Kitty empire.
Itís not just all fun either, as this latest color scheme (for this plane only) is hanging around to bring recognition and awareness about cervical cancer. Japan Airlines, TOKYO FM, and Sanrio are all joining forces as part of the "Hellosmile Project." The plan is to support prevention programs with the planeóitís a Boeing 777 with the registration number JA8941óas it flies in and around Japan and the globe for the next year or so.
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Last week, in a frenzy of excitement, we broke the news (for English-language press, at least) that Taiwan's EVA Air would celebrate their 20th Anniversary by bringing back the old, immensely successful Hello Kitty-painted airplane. Instead of only one as before, however, there'd be three A330s, each with a unique paintjob and the full treatment of Hello Kitty-ization on the inside and out.
That alone was awesome news, and now we have more. Although the Hello Kitty plane routes only operate from Taipei-Taoyuan International to Tokyo, Fukuoka, Hokkaido, Seoul and Hong Kong, EVA Air has just begun long-haul flights from New York-JFK to Taipei. Switching operations from Newark to JFK means it's now that much easier for American travelers to hop an EVA flight and connect at TPE to one of the Hello Kitty jets.
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If you've ever considered a getaway to Taiwan, now is the time because on this upcoming Monday, Taiwanese airline EVA Air will launch threecount 'emthree Airbus A330s each painted with a unique Hello Kitty design.
This will be the second time EVA makes a splash with the Sanrio character as they previously had two planes bearing the cartoon kitty-cat, but retired that livery back in 2009. See a picture of the old design here. This year, however, the airline has added a third plane and freshened up the entire look, which includes everything from the flight attendant aprons to the sugar packets onboard, all Hello Kitty-themed.
And now, a first-person
confession account of medical tourism:
I was in Thailand with a broken tooth. Granted, it had been broken for a while after chomping on some blackcurrant gummies in London, of all things. And then, while in Bangkok, I broke another one chewing blueberry gum. What was happening to my mouth? But more importantly, could I get this all fixed here for a fraction of what it'd cost me back in the States? Thailand is growing famous as a destination for dental tourism and without a dental plan, my US dentist was quoting well into four digits for a crown, so I decided to give it a go.
While researching and stopping into clinics around the city, the first warning I got was not to necessarily trust the Thai dentist clinics that rank highest in Google Search. Duh. The second was not to ask a local for a recommendation as that's about as trustworthy as the Google Search thing. Oh well, I went against the latter warning and sought advice from a local I trusted and she named The Dentist Clinic by the upscale Siam Paragon mall. Bingo.
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It just so happens that Tokyo's Haneda Airporta smaller, far more convenient airport than Narita that previously focused on domestic flightsopened their funky new International Terminal the same week we're in Tokyo. Thanks to ANA getting us security clearance, we'll be bringing you a 5-part series for complete inside looks at everything from the Monorail to the ultra-exclusive airside lounges.
Today, Part 2: Inside the huge Hello Kitty store.
You've seen the area of Tokyo-Haneda Airport's new international terminal that most appeals to visitors and flyers:Edo Marketplace as we said yesterdaybut today, we're having some Friday fun by focusing on a far more targeted area of the airport: the Hello Kitty store.
The paradise of pink and everything kawaii includes products of a shockingly wide range; anyone for Helly Kitty dried cuttlefish or maybe cell phone bling bling? This is where it's at, and plus the shop is pre-security, so expect it to be consistently packed.
Now, let's take a walk though the store...
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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.