Introducing the Hello Kitty Shinkansen, Japan’s Cutest High-Speed Train
Train operator JR West has rolled out its newest bullet train, the Hello Kitty Shinkansen. The high-speed train features carriages festooned with images of the popular Sanrio character and includes a specialty shop and various display corners. The train began service on the San’yō Shinkansen line connecting Shin-Osaka and Hakata Stations on June 30 and will continue to run through the end of September.
Hello Kitty fans in Japan and abroad have a new way to enjoy the wildly popular character by Japanese company Sanrio. Train operator JR West on June 30 launched its newest high-speed service, the Hello Kitty Shinkansen. Running on the San’yō Shinkansen line, the train features carriages adorned inside and out with images of the adorable feline-like character.
Sporting a design inspired by Hello Kitty’s trademark ribbon, the pink and white train will run nearly every day between Shin-Osaka and Hakata Stations until the end of September with the goal of introducing passengers to places of interest in western Japan.
Cars 1 and 2 provide riders the complete Hello Kitty experience, including seats, window shades, and even toilets bedecked in pink ribbons and images of the character. There are also special display corners introducing areas around western Japan. The Hello! Plaza in car 1 has a monitor that shows tourism information as well as a specialty shop offering souvenirs and other items. The Kawaii! Room in car 2 is also chock-full of images of Hello Kitty and has unreserved seating along with a special photo corner. Cars 3 to 8 are standard carriages, but even here sharp-eyed fans can find hidden Hello Kitties.
Fans wanting to ride the Hello Kitty Shinkansen from Hakata Station will have to rise early as the limited express Kodama leaves at 6:40 am. The return train, however, departs Shin-Osaka Station at the more civilized time of 11:29 am. Hopeful passenger can book online via a dedicated page or just hop on one of the unreserved cars. The train will make one round-trip run every day, excluding July 18–20, August 8–10, and September 3–5 and 26–28 when it will head to the shop for routine maintenance.
(Originally written in Japanese. Photos by Kusano Seiichirō.)