Hello Kitty was designed to appeal to young girls, but its biggest fan may just be an adult Japanese man. 67-year-old Masao Gunji has been collecting Hello Kitty memorabilia for the last 30 years, and he was recently acknowledged by Guinness Records as the owner of the largest Hello Kitty collection in the world.
Gunji, a retired police officer from Yotsukaido, in Japan’s Chiba Prefecture, bought his first Hello Kitty item over thee decades ago, at a sightseeing spot. He just thought it looked really cute, and it ended up making his stressful job a bit easier. Whenever he would take a look at the cute character, it put a smile on his face and helped him push through whatever hardships he faced. Masao soon became a Hello Kitty fan and started buying all kinds of items featuring Sanrio’s popular creation. But his obsession really kicked in after he retired from the police force.
With plenty of time on his hands, Masao Gunji started buying all the Hello Kitty memorabilia he could get his hands on. He found them at department stores, in supermarkets, discount stores, and even visited the Sanrio Puroland, a Hello Kitty amusement park, in Tama City, to get some unique items. Before he knew it, Masao’s collection got so big that he hardly had any room to move in his home. So he did what any respectable Hello Kitty collector would in this situation – he built a pink Hello Kitty house and decorated it with his thousands of themed items.
Not only is Gunji’s pink house full of Hello Kitty memorabilia, but the interior is also decked in Hello Kitty wallpaper and the ceiling is embossed with a kitty pattern. Built in 2013, it has become a local attraction in Masao’s neighborhood, and neighbors often come by to see what he’s added to his collection, and relax.
Masao Gunji’s Hello Kitty collection was officially recognized as the largest in the world in November of last year, after a very detailed appraisal. The 67-year-old says that he currently has over 10,000 Hello Kitty items, but that for the certification by Guinness Records, he was asked to select a number of them that could be counted in an 8-hour period. He settled on 5250 of his Hello Kitty-themed things, and transported them to the agreed-upon meeting place in Yotsukaido.
The Japanese collector claims that Guinness’ representative had very strict rules when counting his memorabilia, such as only accepting items that featured Hello Kitty’s iconic pink ribbon. 81 of the presented items were rejected, but even with 5169 items, he was still able to beat the previous record of 4,519 Hello Kitty memorabilia, held by Asako Kanda.
Masao’s wife says that she is not a fan of Sanrio’s massively popular character, but that she’s always been very supportive of her husband, helping him buy new stuff and decorate his pink house.
After getting featured in the Guinness Book of Records, Masao Gunji has been constantly receiving visits from both the neighborhood children and Hello Kitty fans from all around the world.
“This collection is not mine alone,” Masao says. “I would like to share the charm of Hello Kitty with everyone.”