Quake-Hit Railway in Kumamoto Enlists Anime Heroes to Win Back Passengers (News)


Minamiaso, Kumamoto Pref., Aug. 18 (Jiji Press)--A local railway operator in Kumamoto Prefecture has enlisted robot cat Doraemon and other manga and anime heroes as part of efforts to win back passengers about 16 months after a series of powerful earthquakes hit the southwestern prefecture.

A total of 117 artists showed their support for the area by allowing their characters to decorate a local train belonging to Minami-aso Railway, a public-private third-sector firm, which has still been unable to fully resume the operations of its 17.7-kilometer railway services. The company is offering rights to charter the whole train by Internet auction. It is also selling postcards and locally themed box lunches.

“We hope people will come and enjoy a beautiful summer in the Aso region,” a company official said.

Operations of the railway, which links Takamori Station in the town of Takamori and Tateno Station in the village of Minamiaso, both in the prefecture, were suspended entirely soon after the April 2016 quakes partly because some of the tracks were washed away due to landslides triggered by the temblors.

The 7.1-kilometer section between Takamori Station and Nakamatsu Station went back into service some three months after the earthquakes. But the remaining 10.6-kilometer section between Nakamatsu and Tateno stations remains cut off.

Minami-Aso Railway’s anime train (left) and open-air tourist train (right) at Takamori Station on August 5, 2017.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd. Content edited by the Nippon.com editorial team.]

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