Hello Kitty is more than a cartoon cat. She's a cultural institution. No wonder, then, that the character was recently enshrined in a Shinto shrine, which is located in Kofu, Japan.
Bad news, however, if you were planning on making alms in front of the enshrined Kitty-chan. The iconic cat has since been removed, only days after it made its debut, reports the Mainichi Newspaper.
Hello Kitty was placed in the shrine without the necessary permission of Sanrio, the company that holds the character's rights. According to Sanrio, a licensing agreement is necessary in a case like this, because the cat's likeness is not being employed for personal use. Apparently, there was some confusion over this prior to the cat being enshrined.
The city of Kofu is the birthplace of Sanrio's founder, Shintaro Tsuji, so the cat was a way to pay respect and drum up local tourism for the area. On January 27, over a hundred people showed up to see the unveiling of the enshrined Kitty-chan.
Now that the famous cartoon cat has been removed, a maneki-neko has been put in its place.
＜キティちゃん神社＞お披露目２日で石像撤去 使用許諾なく [毎日新聞]
甲府のキティ神社、３日で撤去 サンリオと未契約 [朝日新聞]