Although it has been something like 3 months since I went to Sanrio Puroland, the delightful, fluffy and colourful memories are still clear in my mind.
They say Disneyland is the happiest place on earth- it don't have shit on this dreamland.
Located about 50 minutes from Tokyo station (or 40 from Shinjuku station) you can find Sanrio Puroland in Tama Centre which can be accessed by catching the Keio line from Shinjuku station.
Before I went, I read/heard that it was difficult to find- but if you have a 6th sense for cute (or, you know, half a brain) you will work out how to get there in mere minutes...or seconds if you run towards it like an excited child.
Prices are cheap when you compare them to other theme parks around the world- especially since once you are in Sanrio Puroland you do not have to pay to see the shows, go in any of the interactive areas (such as Hello Kitty's house) or take the boat ride. This is only if you purchase a 'passport' which will only set you back another 1000yen compared to the regular entry ticket and gains you access to so much more.
The order of which you do things is up to you (duh!), but I chose to get in the line for the boat ride as soon as I got inside as it tends to get a little busy. On this ride you will be taken through a world of all the Sanrio characters as they attempt to get ready for Hello Kitty's birthday party. Don't forget to pose for the camera at the end as you can purchase a photo of yourself on the ride. The instructions are in Japanese however and my first time around I completely missed it. My photo at the booth was a picture of me with my back turned...taking a photo of something next to me. Brilliant. So naturally I just had to go back around um a couple of times.
I was happy though to get a photo with a Japanese family- with mum and the kids all doing the obligatory 'peace' sign with their fingers!
Aside from the boat ride (which lasts around 10 minutes and is completely tame, by the way) you will find four levels of Hello Kitty bliss with Arcade games, skill testers, numerous shops and eateries and other activities and games to partake in.
There are theatres with different shows (similar to cirque du soleil) and two very interactive games including one which seemed slightly out of place- a virtual rollercoaster with moving chairs hmm and an on theme race against time to rescue HK and her boyfriend, Daniel.
Among these four flours you will also find opportunities for getting your silhouette done, a Japanese 'cartoon' style portrait of yourself and a photo plant where you can have a souvenir photo of you dressed as your favourite Sanrio star!
One of the most incredible features of Sanrio Puroland is the food available. There are a few cafes located on the top level of the complex, but for Hello Kitty style (and very, very cheap) food, you should opt for the food court.
Here, I purchased HK bento- which luckily for me (as I am allergic to seafood) I was able to find very Western food
This only set me back around AU$8 and had chicken, rice, a hash brown (what the?) and some other stuff, plus a drink. That's pretty good- considering they could charge $15 and you wouldn't have much choice except to answer the call of your rumbling tummy.
I also got the HK shaped cheesecake pictured here nom nom nom.
Aside from the food court and the cafes- there are tonnes of other little food outlets around, selling equally cute and cheap snack food. Check out these Hello Kitty shaped cakey type things, filled with cream cheese, chocolate, caramel, vanilla and heaps of other flavours I forget.
My other favourite edible memories are these Jean Paul Gaultier inspired water bottles (which I bought home as momentos)
and this ice cream which is really cool (ha!). It is formed in little balls, and stays that way in your mouth, until it melts- obviously. It tastes similar to Cold rock's 'double choc' flavour, but I was totally obsessed with this and may have gone back a number of times for more. Oops.
Oh, and yes my nails are adorable, aren't they? I got those done in the Shin-Marunouchi building at the nail bar on the top floor. The clever girl made the HK faces from scratch!
At the end of the self-lead tour of her house, you will get to meet Hello Kitty in person! If you are very emotional like me, you may tear up upon meeting her. I think I was seconds away from being asked to let go as I embraced her like a long lost friend. What of it?
My advice to anyone making the trip out to Sanrio Puroland is to just take everything in, and enjoy the extreme attention to detail that has gone into making this place happen. Even the toilets are enchanted:
It's hard not to enjoy yourself when there are adorable things like this running around:
And opportunities to have a photo of yourself (or your kids) taken like this:
If you're on a budget- don't worry. You can still go and have an awesome day. With adult entry price being the most expensive thing at around AU$50, you could easily do this theme park in AU$100.
The other $50 could be divided up with
$20 food/drinks (over the whole day- if that)
$12 photo as your fave character (you HAVE to do this, it's hilarious/cute/funny)
$10 transport to/from the centre of Tokyo
and then still have enough left over for a souvenir (they're very cheaply prices) and/or one of the 500yen lucky dip games which offer stunning prizes worth well over the price of the game. I got a soup mug and a cool pack in the shape of HK's head (which was perfect given it was the height of summer while I was there) but some of the other prizes include air humidifier (no- seriously) towels, skipping ropes, makeup bags, clothing, mobile phone accessories- basically anything that you can think of with HK's face printed on it.Of course, you can also buy a load of stuff like me- keep in mind this was really restrained because I was at the start of my trip:
Other handy hints:
-no prams are allowed, so if you're taking kids make sure they can walk or you are comfortable carrying them
-there isn't much seating just generally around, so be prepared for that and wear very comfy shoes.
-Everything is in Japanese (obviously) but unlike most places in Tokyo there is no English translation on signs so just keep your wits about you
-If you are a young, tall, Australian girl on your own you WILL get gawked at. But don't be afraid to ask people to take your picture. And don't forget to take a million photos of everything as noone will truly understand the magnitude of the cute unless they see it for themselves.
For more info- head to http://puroland.co.jp/english/