5 Things You Have to Do at the World’s First Hello Kitty Convention

Free tattoos, carnival games, and tons of exclusive merchandise, this is Comic-Con for devotees of the feline figure

If you were lucky enough to get a badge to Sanrio’s first ever Hello Kitty Convention (they sold out long ago and 25,000 attendees are expected) you’re in for a treat. Hello Kitty Con, which starts today and runs throughout Sunday, is being held at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, conveniently located next to the Japanese American National Museum and its uber-adorable exhibition, which celebrates Hello Kitty’s 40th birthday. She doesn’t look a day over 32.

You go to the JANM exhibition, Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty, to learn about Hello Kitty’s history and gaze at art inspired by the global icon’s. You go to Kitty Con to shop. And to step inside a giant plastic coin purse, a replica of the first item to bear the Hello Kitty character. The first global gathering of its kind, Kitty Con is a sort of Comic-Con for devotees of the feline figure. (We don’t care what Sanrio says; she’ll always be a cat to us.)

There’s a boatload of limited edition merchandise (pajamas, headphones, notebook, makeup, dresses, t-shirts, figurines, watches… the list goes on), but there’s also plenty to do: an interactive game room, workshops, and free tattoos.

1. Hello Kitty Friendship Village
As Hello Kitty is fond of saying, “You can never have too many friends.” On the convention’s main floor, fans can explore her whimsical world with several fantastic photo opps: a large teacup you can sit in, a huge replica of the original 1974 Hello Kitty coin purse, and a mini-kitchen done entirely in Sanrio housewares. You can also snap pics Hello Kitty herself; she’ll be making daily appearances along with the rest of the Sanrio gang. Also, make sure to catch a sneak peek of Sanrio’s newest show debuting in 2015, Hello Kitty’s Supercute Friendship Festival, on the Main Stage.

2. Super SuperMarket
Inspired by Japanese marketplaces this shop carries merchandise that’s exclusive to Kitty Con. That includes Beats by Dr. Dre headphones and a Hello Kitty SPAM musubi set inspired by chef Roy Choi. In addition to exhibitors such as JapanLA, Dylan’s Candy Bar, Sephora, Ju-Ju-Be, and Loungefly, the Sanrio Vintage Shoppe showcases retro items seen in the JANM exhibition. Don’t forget to stop by the Friendship Station Pop-Up shop for official Kitty Con merchandise.

3. The Adventures of Hello Kitty and Bullseye
Target has teamed up with Sanrio to present an interactive arcade. Fans receive free RFID (radio frequency identification) game cards that they can use to win points at various carnival-style games; the points can then be traded for cute prizes. Need another selfie? The Floating Photobooth lets attendees choose cute backdrops including an underwater one.

4. Lovely Kitty Wonder and the Art Scene
Located on a balcony near the main floor and curated by Stephiee Nguyen of JapanLA Clothing, this area displays fashion inspired by the feline icon. We’re partial to a mermaid dress with Hello Kitty sequins and a structured steel corset with Hello Kitty engraved as the center piece. Check out the Art Scene, which contains works by artists Dabs Myla and Pose and a limited edition poster (designed by Globe Poster) commemorating Hello Kitty Con.

5. Hello Kitty Panels & Lectures
What’s a convention without some panels? Held next door at JANM, all the lectures and panels are free for Kitty Con attendees on the day-of. Topics include Hello Kitty fandom, Japanese pop culture, and the history of Hello Kitty. Highlights include Cute Culture, which features Dr. Christine Yano, who curated the Hello Kitty exhibition, and For the Love of the Red Bow –Superfans Unite!, a special panel for superfans.

BONUS: Free Tattoos!
Yes, you read that right. On the convention’s main floor you’ll find a room with a few tattoo stations where you can get inked with images of Hello Kitty. Sorry, they’re only Hello designs, but they’re real tattoos, not temporary ones.