Sanrio Co., Ltd.
Founded 1960
Founder(s) Shintaro Tsuji
Headquarters Tokyo, Japan
Sanrio products stand at a commercial convention

Sanrio Co., Ltd. (株式会社サンリオ Kabushiki-kaisha Sanrio?) TYO: 8136 is a Japanese company that designs and licenses branded characters. Their products include stationery, school supplies, gifts and accessories. Sanrio's best known character is Hello Kitty, a white cat with red bow and no visible mouth, one of the most successful marketing brands in the world.[1]




Sanrio was founded by Shintaro Tsuji as the Yamanashi Silk Company in 1960, using 1 million yen in capital. The company produced a line of character merchandise around gift-giving occasions. It wasn't until 1973 that the company was officially established under the name "Sanrio." The word Sanrio comes from "San" and "Río", Spanish words appearing on names of cities such as "San Francisco", "San Diego", "Río de Janeiro". These words mean "saint" and "river" respectively.[2]

Besides selling their famed character goods, Sanrio also takes part in movie production and publishing. Furthermore, they participate in the fast food industry, running a franchise of KFC in Saitama. They also own the rights to the Peanuts characters in Japan. Sanrio also has an animatronics company branch called Kokoro Company, Ltd. ("Kokoro" being the Japanese word for "heart"), best known for the Actroid android.

Sanrio is the largest greeting card manufacturer in Japan.[citation needed] In 2002, they began a joint business venture with the Walt Disney Company for their greeting cards.

Hello Kitty was added to the early characters of Sanrio in 1974 and was released in 1975. The popular mouthless feline has had both peaks and drops in sales over the years, but always has been the highest contributor to Sanrio's sales. Other notably popular characters through the years have been The Little Twin Stars (created by Mr. Tsuji himself), My Melody, Keroppi, Tuxedo Sam, Badtz-Maru, Tenorikuma, Usahana, Pochacco, Chococat, and Cinnamoroll. Sanrio constantly adds new characters to its lineup (up to three a year), so some of the older characters go into retirement. Some of Sanrio's newest characters are Charmmy Kitty (Hello Kitty's pet cat), Kuromi (My Melody's rival) and Chi Chai Monchan (a pink monkey who balances bananas on his head.) For a time, Osamu Tezuka's baby unicorn character Unico, who starred in two feature-length anime movies in the early 1980s, was also part of the Sanrio empire; however, the rights to Unico shifted to Tezuka's own company after Tezuka's death in 1989.

In late 2003, Sanrio won the "Top Brand with a Conscience" award from the Medinge Group of Sweden for its communication principles. The company has partnered with UNICEF since 1984.

In 2006, Sanrio went Digital with a joint venture with Typhoon Games and launched Sanrio Digital to expand its brand and revenues through the Internet, Online Games and Mobile Services.

"The Adventure of Hello Kitty & Friends" is the first ever made Hello Kitty TV series animation in 3D. The animation is licensed by Sanrio Digital and produced by Dream Cortex. The first season with 26 episodes will premier on select networks in Europe and Asia, including Hong Kong, beginning in the first quarter of 2008.


Sanrio, Inc. headquarters in South San Francisco

Sanrio hosts two theme parks in Japan, Sanrio Puroland in Tama, Tokyo, and Harmonyland [3]in Hiji, Ōita, Kyūshū.

Sanrio Inc. is Sanrio's American subsidiary. Sanrio Inc. has offices in South San Francisco, California and Torrance, California. Sanrio's first Western hemisphere store opened in San Jose's Eastridge Mall. In 2008 Sanrio opened its high-end boutique called Sanrio Luxe in New York City's Times Square. In the Western Hemisphere SANRIO character-branded products are sold in upwards of 12,000 locations including department, specialty, national chain stores and over 85 Sanrio boutiques.

Sanrio characters

Toys from Sanrio


From 1977 to 1985, Sanrio produced the following movies through their Sanrio Films label:

After "A Journey Through Fairyland", Sanrio switched gears and started doing short films, OAVs, and TV shows based on their characters (Hello Kitty, etc.). In 2006, Sanrio announced they're going to do feature-length films again when they announced they were making 2 new movies: Nezumi Monogatari: George To Gerald no Bouken (Mouse Story: George and Gerald's Adventure), about mice living together, and Cinnamoroll: The Movie, about the character Cinnamoroll. The two movies were released as a double feature on December 22, 2007 and are expected to be released overseas.


Sanrio publishes many books featuring its own characters. Additionally, they publish art books (for instance, those by Keibun Ōta) and other books. Sanrio publishes books in many different languages, including Japanese and English. Sanrio published video games in the early 1990's under the name Character Soft.