Hello Kitty is an icon. You don't only find the cat in video games, on toilet paper, and even an infamous vibrator. And now, Hello Kitty has a dentist office.
Last month, the Heart Dental Clinic opened in Tokyo's Koto-ku. It's wall-to-wall Kitty-chan, Sanrio approved, and pink. Really, really pink.
Inside, it's a Hello Kitty wonderland. The clinic features Hello Kitty wallpaper, heart-shaped seats, Kitty pictures, and even a heart-shaped restroom sink. There are various "themed" rooms, such as "Kitty Pearl", a room where patients can talk treatment with the dentist, and "Kitty Ruby", where they can get dental treatment.
Sanrio, the company responsible for Hello Kitty, is a genius at marketing the kawaii cat, licensing the character out to a myriad of companies to help promote products—and in turn, the cat itself.
The reason for making a "Hello Kitty" dental clinic isn't simply that Japan is crazy for Kitty—it is—but rather, the clinic uses the character as a way to make going to the dentist less nerve racking for patients, especially younger ones.
Six or seven years ago, a taxi company in Japan launched "Hello Kitty Taxi" for much the same reason: to make taking a taxi, which until recently always smelled like cigarettes, less stifling. Also, since this particular taxi company used female-only drivers (taxi drivers in Japan are usually male), the service was apparently popular with women. At the time, I spoke to the taxi company who said some of its customers were mothers who used their taxis to take their children to the doctor. Going to the hospital in a Kitty taxi makes the journey less frightening.
This is one of the major reasons why Japanese pre-school buses look like giant puppy dogs or Pokémon characters. Their cute characters make kids want to ride them much more than a boring old bus.
The clinic originally opened last November, but it was remolded and reopened earlier this year. According to Japanese news site IT Media, the clinic should appeal to females and children alike. No doubt, it does.