For as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved Hello Kitty. Going to Gift Gate as a kid was sort of a must-do whenever my family went to Manila on weekends (I grew up in the South!). And no, I didn’t have to buy anything. The mere act of window shopping made me happy (and of course, my parents too! hehe). 🙂 Nowadays, you won’t find me wearing Hello Kitty hair clips or belts anymore (looking back, I never really wore the clips and belts, I just loved looking at them) but the cartoon character is something I don’t think I’ll ever outgrow (even when others find her tacky!). At 30, I’m no longer afraid of being judged because there’s something in Hello Kitty that’s nostalgic and she keeps the little girl spirit in me. You see, it’s so hard to drop being a fan because she simply adjusts to a girl’s phase in her life. From notebooks, plush dolls, and stickers, I now find myself buying from the adult line, like Hello Kitty cookie cutters and gelatin molds. 😛
With this strong love for Hello Kitty, Sanrio Puroland (every Sanrio fan’s Disneyland) has been on my travel list for almost a decade. I’ve always told myself that I have to go there before I turn 30. That was just a random wish I had in my head. I remember researching and coming up with an itinerary back in 2005 but school and work got in the way. Finally, last year, after almost 10 years, my dream of seeing the place came true! I had to go to Japan for a 6-day business trip (October 20-26, 2014) and we had one FREE day for ourselves! What made it perfect was the fact that our scheduled trip was a week before Hello Kitty’s 40th birthday celebration. I didn’t mind missing her actual birthday, after all, Sanrio had a year-long celebration and that’s more than enough for me! 🙂
Our free day fell on a Friday and I was so torn between going to the Tsukiji Market (from the documentary film Jiro Dreams of Sushi) where one of my companions was going or Sanrio Puroland. My concern was that Puroland was almost 2 hours away from Shinjuku, Tokyo’s business district where we were staying, and no one was available to accompany me. Two friends from work volunteered to join me days before but plans changed when they had official errands to attend to. Armed with a map from Keio Hotel’s reception, I found the courage to follow my heart and still go on my own. 😛
Oh, I forgot to share that what made me crazy nervous was the fact that I didn’t have my own pocket wifi with me. I just shared with the group as we were together most of the time. (That’s a MAJOR tip! Have a pocket wifi with you wherever you go so you can get some SOS from Google when you have to. You can rent online beforehand and the wifi unit will be delivered to your hotel upon check-in. Aside from Google maps, someone gave me the tip to use Google Translate when talking to non-English speakers.) I had a backup plan in my head that I’ll turn on my cellular data service in case of emergency but I tried not to. I didn’t want a firsthand experience of a phone bill skyrocketing because of additional roaming charges. Thank God, doing hand signals and a very basic background in Japanese (I took it as my Foreign Language elective back in college!) got me through.
After more than an hour I think (including my getting-off-the-wrong-station experience), I finally reached my destination!:)
Since a gift shop was near the entrance, I had to see it first and map out my shopping plan. Being the cheapskate that I am, I knew I had to carefully plan and get a hold of my hoarding tendencies.
To be continued in PART 2.