All Aboard the Kyary Pamyu Pamyu Train!
Guideto JapanCulture Music
From June to September 2016 the Seibu Ikebukuro Line carried passengers on a train themed around singer Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. Carriages were repainted from the line’s standard yellow to kawaii pink and adorned with images of the J-Pop star. As part of its route, the train passed through Nishitōkyō, the municipality where Kyary was born, and Seibu Railway sought to appeal to local residents as well as Japanese and international fans.
Designs on carriages were based on Kyary’s hit songs “Pon Pon Pon,” “Tsukematsukeru,” “Fashion Monster,” and “Mondai gāru,” displaying the singer in outfits from the corresponding music videos. The interiors of carriages also featured scenes from the videos.
Kyary showed up in person for the opening ceremony on June 4 at Ikebukuro Station. “I’m very happy that a train I used to ride has been painted in my colors,” she told the enthusiastic crowd. Then she gave the “All aboard!” call and invited everyone to get on the KPP Train.
The 328 passengers on the train’s maiden journey included young people and families, many of whom were members of the pop idol’s fan club. In addition to those incorporated into the design, songs like “Furisodation” and “Ninjari Bang Bang” played in the carriages as the train traveled from Ikebukuro Station to Hōya in Nishitōkyō and back again. Kyary served as the conductor, introducing famous places along the route and getting together with passengers to record departure announcements to be used at stations.
The highlight of the trip came at Hōya Station when Kyary came through the carriages to check customers’ tickets. She was greeted with cheers all the way. Norberto Sánchez, an American student at a university in Yokohama, said, “I love how colorful Kyary is. I’m very happy to see her from so close for the first time.”
After Kyary finished her tour of the carriages, the train headed back to Ikebukuro. The passengers enjoyed the rest of the trip while listening to music. Junior high school student Kamikata Yumeka took a picture of the carriage after getting off the train. Beaming, she said, “The design was supercute. More than I expected.”
Fans who gathered on platforms to catch a glimpse of Kyary also got into the spirit of the event by waving at the KPP Train as it trundled through stations along the way. The popularity of the train was such that from July 30, Seibu switched tracks to allow the train to pass through Kyary’s birthplace of Tanashi on the Seibu Shinjuku Line.
(Originally published in Japanese on October 29, 2016. Banner photo courtesy of Seibu Railway. Photographs by Kawai Satoshi except where otherwise noted.)