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Sanrio Co., Ltd is a Japanese company known for its character designs and merchandising. Best known for Hello Kitty, Sanrio has developed everything from stationery to gifts, accessories, clothing, theme parks, and school supplies around Hello Kitty and its dozens of other characters that still hold international attention.



Started in 1960 as the Yamanashi Silk Company by Shintaro Tsuji for 1 million yen in capital, Sanrio originally produced character merchandise that was based around holidays and gift giving opportunities. In 1973, the company was reformed under the name Sanrio which translates in Japanese and Spanish as “three” (san in Japanese) “river” (rio in Spanish) for the three rivers of the world.

Since reforming in 1973, Sanrio has become involved in everything from movie production to publishing, fast food franchise ownership in Saitama, and the ownership of the Peanuts characters in Japan. In addition, they are the largest greeting card company in Japan and since 2002 have had a partnership with Walt Disney Company for greeting cards.

Sanrio Characters

In 1974, Hello Kitty was added to the cast of Sanrio’s characters and later released in 1975. Since then, she has been the most popular and significant contributor to Sanrio sales. There have been numerous other characters developed and released by Sanrio as well, including:

While these are only a few of the dozens of characters Sanrio has developed, they are among the most enduring. Sanrio will regularly retire characters and introduce up to three new ones per year. Recent additions to the Sanrio stable of characters include:

International Presence

Almost since its inception in the 1970s, the Sanrio brand has been an international powerhouse, with the Sanrio Inc American subsidiary in San Francisco producing multiple products for American audiences and eighteen flagship stores existing in malls across the United States. Sanrio has additional subsidiaries in more than 25 countries around the world.

In 2006, Sanrio added a digital aspect to their business ventures in a joint venture with Typhoon Games, starting development on Internet, mobile, and home video game products.

Complete list of Characters

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