May 09, 2016

    68,000 Hello Kitty safety barriers in Japan worksites


    SURROUNDING a construction site in central Sendai are safety barricades that give an unusual pop of colour to the drab-looking area.

    The 70cm-tall pink plastic barricade bears the image of Hello Kitty, a character loved both at home and abroad.

    The Hello Kitty barricade is one of the most popular safety barricades created by Sendai Meiban.

    The company, which sells and leases out safety products for construction and roadwork sites, started providing Hello Kitty barricades to construction companies and other firms in May last year.

    By end-March, these barricades were leased to 527 companies and about 68,000 have been set up across the country.

    The company created the Hello Kitty barricades in the hope that tourists would take an interest in them ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

    Sendai Meiban, which was founded in 1969, first came up with character-based safety barricade designs in 2006.

    Of the 220,000 barricades it had leased out as of end-November, about 160,000 sported cartoon characters, although the daily rental fee for these barricades are higher than for ordinary ones.

    But the special barricades are not only about cute designs; they also promote safety.

    Reflective sheets on the characters help reflect light at night. Soft materials are used so vehicles will not be damaged upon accidental contact.

    They also help improve the image of construction or roadwork sites.

    The company's clients said they have fewer complaints from neighbourhoods and their working environments have become calmer than before.

    "One idea can change the atmosphere of a construction site. We plan to continue developing products that will achieve safety as well as provide a fun atmosphere at work sites," said Kenji Akasaka of the company's Sendai office.