Masao Gunji, a 67-year-old former policeman with the world’s biggest Hello Kitty collection has become the envy of little girls everywhere with a quarter of a million dollars worth of moon-faced memorabilia.
The ex-policeman currently spends his retirement tracking down pink and white soft toys to keep in a Hello Kitty-themed house, which he built specially and has become a magnet for tourists.
Hello Kitty, Japan’s global icon of cute, was introduced in 1974 and is now one of the country’s most famous exports — adorning everything from pencil cases to pyjamas.
“Kitty has been like the love of my life,” he said at his one-storey property, which is surrounded by regular houses.
“I love Kitty,” he added, calling her “adorable, especially her facial expressions”.
Though he doesn’t live in the property, Gunji was recognised last November by Guinness World Records for his collection, having spent around 30 million yen ($267,000) on thousands of items, including the house.
More than 5,000 items he owns bear Kitty’s iconic red bow, propelling Gunji past the previous record holder, also Japanese.
Gunji’s wife Yoshiko says she fully supports her husband’s passion.
“I don’t care how much he spends on Hello Kitty,” she said.
“People need to make a mark on the world, and Hello Kitty is the one he lives for,” she added.
“This is his dream.”