DJ Hello Kitty thrills teenagers in Japan store

TOKYO - Japanese teenagers crowded a new Hello Kitty themed store in one of Tokyo's hippest areas on Thursday as the mouthless cat turned global icon of cuteness entertained them with her music-mixing skills.

A life-sized version of the cat that adorns everything from school bags to office equipment got the crowds moving from a special DJ booth in the ultra-cool SHIBUYA109 building, a magnet for Tokyo's fashion-conscious youth.

"I've been looking forward to the opening as I'm a fan of Kitty. She is so cute," said 19-year-old student Manami Kubo.

"Kitty goods are not just for small children these days and many of my friends also like them."

The new store, CLUB KT Shibuya, will sell all things Kitty from clothing, accessories, stationery and cosmetics, and is in the heart of one of Tokyo's main nightlife areas, where youngsters parade the capital's far-out fashions.

On Thursday DJ Hello Kitty, wearing her trademark pink ribbon, took to the wheels in her own booth, replete with video screens and a mirror ball thrilling crowds in a country where cute and cool are virtual synonyms.

"We believe that our stores should not only sell goods but also offer dreams," said Kazuo Tohmatsu, spokesman for Sanrio, the Tokyo-based company behind the multi-million dollar Hello Kitty industry.

"Teenagers want to experience club culture for themselves, but they are not allowed to go into places where alcohol is served. Here they can experience club culture," Tohmatsu told AFP.

"For 40 years, we have offered entertainment events at our stores to meet the changing demands of the times. CLUB KT is our offering to the teenagers of today," he said.

Hello Kitty, which started in 1974 in Japan as a moon-faced cartoon cat on a coin purse, has developed into a global phenomenon. Sanrio says it now has around 50,000 different products on sale in 109 nations and territories.