You might not believe this, but the world’s biggest Hello Kitty collector is a 67-year-old retired police officer named Masao Gunji.
After spending most of his life tracking down criminals, Gunji now enjoys his retirement by collecting the moon-faced memorabilia. According to NDTV, the ex-cop spent around 30 million yen (approximately RM1.14 million) on thousands of items, including the Hello Kitty-themed house he built on his own.
Introduced in 1974 by Sanrio, Hello Kitty is a fictional character that is created by Yuko Shimizu and currently designed by Yuko Yamaguchi. The adorable white cat-inspired character is often dubbed as Japan’s global icon of kawaii (which means cute in Japanese). Its merchandises (i.e. pencil cases, bags, accessories, etc) are undoubtedly some of Japan’s most famous exports.
“Kitty has been like the love of my life. I love Kitty,” Gunji said, calling her “adorable, especially her facial expressions”.
His wife is also very supportive of his passion. She shared, “I don’t care how much he spends on Hello Kitty. People need to make a mark on the world, and Hello Kitty is the one he lives for. This is his dream.”
Gunji was recognised in November 2016 by Guinness World Records for his enormous collection. It was reported that he owns over 5,000 items that bear Hello Kitty’s iconic red bow.