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Last Updated: Monday, 1 November, 2004, 12:35 GMT
Japan's Hello Kitty comes of age
Queen Hello Kitty doll in a diamond-studded crown and robe, 01/09/2004
The $92,000 Queen Hello Kitty was made specially for the birthday
A Japanese cartoon cat which became a multi-million dollar global enterprise has turned 30 years old.

Hello Kitty, launched in 1974 by Sanrio Co, can be found on everything from Japanese bank cards to taxis, and has seduced both children and adults.

She may not have everything one would look for in a woman - no mouth and dots for eyes - but she certainly appeals to the Japanese cult of the cute.

"I must say I'm addicted to Kitty," one 37-year-old woman told AFP.

"When I see new items, I usually buy them. It's like a conditioned reflex," Tamaki Hirayoshi told the French news agency.

Hello Kitty now accounts for about 50% of Sanrio's revenue.

Ken Asada of marketing research firm Character Data Bank said he thought Hello Kitty's expressionless face made her more versatile as a companion.

But Noriko Takahashi, a 34-year-old mother of two, said she was most captivated by the cat's cuteness.

"Kitty is irresistible because all her products are cute. Even as a grown-up, I cannot stop buying Kitty's goods," she told AFP.

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