When it comes to the fastest things on rail, Japan has a claim to fame in that regard. After all, their archipelago nation is home to the famous Shinkansen, or Bullet Trains. Originally started in 1964 as a means of high-speed travel connection between Tokyo and distant regions of Japan to aid the growth and development of their economy, the Shinkansen lines went on to boast the highest passenger ridership annually of any high-speed railway line around the world until outstripped by China. But one advantage Japanese bullet trains have over China’s own, is that they have a cute one.
CNN reports that West Japan Railway Co. Ltd, operator of the nation’s westbound bullet trains for the main island of Honshu as part of the Japan Railways Group, will soon be rolling out some new Shinkansen wholly themed after iconic Japanese pop icon character Hello Kitty. The move of introducing a bullet train decorated with a Hello Kitty motif was being done as a means to revitalize regular rail travel in western Japan, and will have scheduled stops at every station along the way from Shin-Osaka and Fukuoka City’s Hakata ward. They also hope to enliven the connected regional communities.
This route will be handled by two refurbished Series 500 Shinkansen trains, both repainted with livery depicting Hello Kitty, the most recognizable character from the stable of Japanese commercial brand giant Sanrio. Pink is the most dominant color, with ribbons the most prominent motif, representing West Japan Railway’s commitment in this campaign to “connect” bullet train travelers with their many possible destinations in western Honshu. Each train will also have a passenger car transformed into Hello Kitty showcases while exhibiting regional products and touristy sights along the route. They will also have a train-uniformed Hello Kitty dolls for passenger selfies.
West Japan Railway hopes to have the Hello Kitty Shinkansen launch its operations by June 30, and their trains’ Hello Kitty showcases would entice train passengers and international tourists to check out the prefectures along the route: Shimane, Tottori, Osaka, Hyogo, Okayama, Hiroshima, Yamaguchi and Fukuoka. For every station stop, the special Shinkansen will sound the Hello Kitty theme tune from its anime adaptations. Passengers will also be able to buy Hello Kitty souvenirs from the special cars. In addition, Hakata Station will open a Hello Kitty café in June 1, and an exclusive product souvenir shop on the 30th.
For more information on how to ride the Hello Kitty Shinkansen route along Western Japan, travellers in the country may check this special timetable. The website language is mostly Japanese, but the calendars are easy enough to decipher by Westerners.