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Sanrio Co., Ltd.
Native name
Public KK
Traded asTYO: 8136
Video Games
Founded10 August 1960; 60 years ago (1960-08-10) (as Yamanashi Silk Company)
FounderShintaro Tsuji
Key people
Shintaro Tsuji (former President & CEO)
Tomokuni Tsuji (President)
  • Fashion
  • Accessories
  • Gifts
  • Entertainment
  • Video games
RevenueDecrease ¥74,233 million (FY2012)[2]
Increase ¥20,198 million (FY2012)[2]
Decrease ¥12,536 million (FY2012)[2]
Total assetsIncrease ¥97,425 million (FY2012)[2]
Total equityIncrease ¥48,982 million (FY2012)[2]
Number of employees
759 (Mar. 2017)[3]

Sanrio Co., Ltd. (株式会社サンリオ, Kabushikigaisha Sanrio)[4] is a Japanese company that designs, licenses and produces products focusing on the kawaii ('cute') segment of Japanese popular culture. Their products include stationery, school supplies, gifts, and accessories that are sold worldwide, including at specialty brand retail stores in Japan. Sanrio's best-known character is Hello Kitty, a little anthropomorphic girl cat,[5][6][7] and one of the most successful marketing brands in the world.[8]

Besides selling character goods, Sanrio takes part in movie production and publishing. Sanrio has the license to produce Peanuts merchandise for the Japanese market. Also, Sanrio owns the Mr. Men and Little Miss characters, having purchased the rights to them in 2011. Their animatronics branch, called Kokoro Company, Ltd. (kokoro being Japanese for 'heart'), is best known for the Actroid android. They even play a part in the fast food industry, running a franchise of KFC in Saitama Prefecture.


Sanrio store in Den-en-chōfu, Ōta, Tokyo
Sanrio store in Den-en-chōfu, Ōta, Tokyo

The company was founded by Shintaro Tsuji as the Yamanashi Silk Company in 1960, using ¥1,000,000 in capital. In 1962, Tsuji expanded his enterprise from silk to rubber sandals with flowers painted on them.[9] Tsuji noted the profits gained by simply adding a cute design to the sandals and hired cartoonists to design cute characters for his merchandise in response.[9]

In 1973 the company was officially established under the name Sanrio. The company's European website says the name comes from the Spanish words san ('holy') and río ('river').[10] The book Kore ga Sanrio no Himitsu Desu (これがサンリオの秘密です) or This is the Sanrio Company Secret gives another origin of the name.[11] According to this book, Tsuji, Sanrio's founder, said that Yamanashi (山梨), part of the company's former name, has an alternative on'yomi reading of Sanri. The remaining o was added from the ou (オウ) sound people make when they are excited.[11]

The company produced a line of character merchandise around gift-giving occasions.[10] Hello Kitty was added to the lineup of early Sanrio characters in 1974 and the first related merchandise was released the following year. The popular feline whose mouth is usually invisible has had both peaks and drops in sales over the years, but always has been the highest contributor to Sanrio's sales. Other notably popular characters through the years have been The Little Twin Stars, My Melody, Keroppi, Tuxedo Sam, Badtz-Maru, Chococat, Cinnamoroll, Sugarbunnies, Jewelpet and Wish me mell. Sanrio constantly adds new characters to its lineup. Specific characters are rotated in and out of active production.[12] For a short time, Osamu Tezuka's baby unicorn character Unico, who starred in two feature-length anime movies in the early 1980s, was also part of the Sanrio empire; however, the rights to Unico shifted to Osamu Tezuka's own company after Tezuka's death in 1989.

In late 2003, Sanrio won the "Top Brand with a Conscience" award from the Medinge Group of Sweden for its communication principles.[13] The company has partnered with UNICEF since 1984. In 2006, Sanrio launched Sanrio Digital together with Typhoon Games to expand to the Internet, online games and mobile services. 2010 was Sanrio's 50th anniversary. In conjunction with this, Build-A-Bear Workshop released limited edition stuffed toys of several Sanrio characters, including Hello Kitty, Chococat, My Melody and Keroppi.[14]

Hello Kitty is alleged to be drawn in a similar style to the rabbit Miffy. On August 26, 2010, Mercis BV, representing Miffy's creator Dick Bruna, brought suit against Sanrio with the claim that one of Hello Kitty's companion characters, a rabbit named Cathy, infringes on the copyright and trademark of Miffy.[15] On November 2, 2010, a Dutch court ruled against Sanrio and ordered the company to stop marketing Cathy products in Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands.[15][16][17] Following the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Sanrio and Mercis reached an out-of-court settlement on June 7, 2011 for Sanrio to halt production worldwide of merchandise that feature Cathy. They also jointly announced a €150,000 donation to earthquake victims.[18]

In December 2011, Sanrio Global acquired the rights to the Mr. Men and Little Miss characters which includes the subsidiary Mr Men Films Ltd. In June 2016, it was announced that Sanrio had partnered with Loot Crate, Inc on a bi-monthly box.[19]

In June 2020, it was announced that the company's founder and President, Shintaro Tsuji, would step down from the role and hand control of the company to his grandson, Tomokuni Tsuji, after 60 years of running the company.[20]


Sanrio Inc. headquarters in South San Francisco
Sanrio Inc. headquarters in South San Francisco

Sanrio Inc. is Sanrio's American subsidiary Sanrio Inc. has offices in South San Francisco, California, and Torrance, California. Sanrio's first Western Hemisphere store opened in San Jose's Eastridge Mall. In 2008, Sanrio opened its high-end boutique called Sanrio Luxe in New York City's Times Square. In the Western Hemisphere, Sanrio character-branded products are sold in upwards of 13,000 locations including department, specialty, national chain stores and over 85 Sanrio boutiques. In April 2010, the first and only Sanrio-licensed eatery (Sanrio Cafe) in the U.S. opened at Pearlridge's Downtown phase in Aiea, Hawaii.

In 2004, Sanrio Co. Ltd., expanded its license to one of its major licensee and plush suppliers Nakajima USA to include the owning and operating of all Sanrio branded stores in the US, overseeing the relationships between individual licensed stores and supplying all categories of products for the retail stores in the US and wholesale accounts.

Sanrio hosts two theme parks in Japan, Sanrio Puroland in Tama, Tokyo, and Harmonyland[21][22] in Hiji, Ōita, Kyūshū.


Sanrio has created a large number of characters, the best known of which is Hello Kitty. Other well known characters include Badtz-Maru, Keroppi, Chococat, My Melody, Jewelpet, and Aggressive Retsuko.



From 1977 to 1985, Sanrio produced movies through their Sanrio Films label. After A Journey Through Fairyland Sanrio switched gears and started doing short films, OAVs, and TV shows based on their characters. In 2006, Sanrio announced they are again going to do feature-length films.

TV animation

Sanrio began its involvement in production of TV animation during the late 1980s and early 1990s, starting with the US-made Hello Kitty's Furry Tale Theater in 1987. The character My Melody got her first starring role in an animated series in the anime television series, Onegai My Melody, which first aired on TV Osaka on April 3, 2005 and was produced by Studio Comet. The Sugarbunnies franchise was later adapted into a 7-minute short series in 2007, and was popular enough to gain two sequels.

Jewelpet was also adapted into an anime metaseries in 2009, which was also produced by Studio Comet, spanning 6 official seasons and one theatrical movie, making it the longest running anime adaptation of a Sanrio franchise in history.

Show by Rock!!, a game by Sanrio and Geechs got an anime adaptation produced by Bones in 2015. Aggretsuko also get three animated adaptations by Fanworks, one aired on Tokyo Broadcasting System and the later two were released officially on Netflix.


Sanrio publishes many books featuring its own characters. It also publishes art books (for instance, those by Keibun Ōta). Sanrio publishes books in many languages, including Japanese and English. Sanrio published video games in the early 1990s under the name Character Soft.


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c d e "Summary of Financial Results for the Fiscal Year Ended March 31, 2013 (FY2012)" (PDF). Sanrio Co., Ltd. May 15, 2013. Retrieved March 30, 2014.
  3. ^ "Company Profile | About Sanrio | Sanrio". Sanrio Co., Ltd. Retrieved June 3, 2016.
  4. ^ サンリオ
  5. ^ Ashcroft, Brian. "Don't Be Silly, Hello Kitty Is a Cat". Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  6. ^ Allen, Sarah. "Is Hello Kitty A Cat? Sanrio Doesn't Know". Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  7. ^ "Hello Kitty isn't a cat!? We called Sanrio to find out!". Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  8. ^ Michael Kanellos, Hello Kitty's guide to business success
  9. ^ a b "The cat who turned kawaii into cash". Asia Times. 2003-12-13. Archived from the original on 2005-02-10. Retrieved 2020-05-27.
  10. ^ a b "Sanrio Europe". Archived from the original on October 1, 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-14.
  11. ^ a b これがサンリオの秘密です (1979).
  12. ^ Characters Archived 2010-12-23 at the Wayback Machine -
  13. ^ The Medinge Group - Brands with a Conscience Past winners 2004 Archived 2010-12-17 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ Hello Kitty and Sanrio Friends Celebrate Sanrio's 50th Anniversary at Build-A-Bear Workshop
  15. ^ a b "Announcement of Provisional Disposition Order Against Sanrio" (PDF) (Press release). Sanrio Company, Ltd. November 4, 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 30, 2011. Retrieved July 25, 2011.
  16. ^ Kollewe, Julia (November 4, 2010). "Miffy biffs Cathy in Kitty copycat case". The Guardian. London. Retrieved May 16, 2011.
  17. ^ Dawson, Chester; Kanna Takeuchi (November 4, 2010). "Miffy, Hello Kitty Take Bunny Beef to Court". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved May 16, 2011.
  18. ^ "Japan's Hello Kitty resolves bunny battle with Miffy". Radio Netherlands Worldwide. Archived from the original on June 23, 2011. Retrieved June 16, 2011.
  19. ^ "Sanrio Partners with Loot Crate". 2016-10-10. Retrieved 2020-03-24.
  20. ^ France-Presse, Agence. "Hello Kitty gets a new boss after 60 years". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 June 2020.
  21. ^
  22. ^ Harmonyland Archived 2006-12-01 at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ a b Sanrio Company [jp] on IMDb
  24. ^ a b Sanrio Communications [us] on IMDb
  25. ^ Jaafar, Ali. "'Hello Kitty' To Be Turned Into Film For 2019 Release". Deadline. Retrieved 5 July 2015.
  26. ^ Saad, Nardine (5 March 2019). "Hello Kitty is getting her own English-language movie". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 22 March 2019.
  27. ^

Further reading

External links

This page was last edited on 22 November 2020, at 01:25
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