Japanese Pop Princess Ayumi Hamasaki Ties Up with Hello Kitty

Global icon of cuteness Hello Kitty is adding some sex appeal in a new figurine with Japanese pop princess Ayumi Hamasaki. A miniature of Hamasaki with the mouthless cat will go on sale during the 28-year-old singer’s tour of Asia, which starts Saturday.

"I’m really happy to collaborate with Kitty, which I’ve loved since childhood," said Hamasaki, arguably the best-known face in Japanese pop.

"Regardless of age or nationality, Hello Kitty is loved by many women and is very special," she said in a statement.

The figurine shows Hamasaki holding the cat. The two are wearing matching farmers’ overalls and red ribbons in their hair.

It will go on sale at Hamasaki’s concerts in Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore.

If it proves a hit, the singer’s recording agent Avex said it planned tie-ups between Hamasaki’s figurine — which is already sold on its own as "Ayupan" — and other popular characters.

The figurine will sell for 600 yen (five dollars). Hand-held mirrors with a drawing of Hamasaki holding Hello Kitty will be sold for 2,200 yen (19 dollars).

Hello Kitty, which started in 1974 in Japan as a moon-faced cartoon cat on a coin purse, has developed into a global phenomenon, with more than 50,000 different products on sale in 60 nations.

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