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The Story of the Train Stamps
Full of Atomic Nuclei
> A Visit to Japan
On Being Different
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Hello KittyI have to admit I'm fascinated by Hello Kitty, which is why she gets a whole page to herself. The original cause, I think, is that I once met an extremely attractive girl who had a Hello Kitty tattoo.
So, anyway, when we arrived in Japan, I was pleased and amused to see that there were big round Hello Kitty stickers on all the train doors, at least on the particular line we were on. I originally figured it was just advertising, but as we rode the trains over and over and I looked more closely, I noticed that she was holding out a hand with a little white bandage around one finger, and was saying what I took to be “ouch!”. So then I tried to read the text that ran around the edges, and was able to guess that it said something like this.
Hello Kitty says, please stand away from the doors.
OK, I made up the “Hello Kitty says” part, but that's the idea. I never thought of Hello Kitty as an advocate of rail safety, before, but now I know.
By the way, what I took to be “ouch!” is actually something like “look out!”.
Just for fun, I asked around to see if I could buy a few of these charming stickers. I couldn't, as it turns out, but it was still fun, especially the part about trying to explain to the two girls at the bookstore cash register that I wanted to buy Hello Kitty stickers like the ones on the train. I did learn something, though, which is that in Japan, Hello Kitty is called Kitty-chan. The “-chan” suffix is like “-san”, but for little girls.
Later, when I was out walking around, I found a gas station with banners showing Kitty-chan driving a little car. There was some text, too, but I couldn't decipher it, except for one part that said the equivalent of “vrooom!”.
Visit to Japan, A
@ October (2001)