The Hello Kitty Shinkansen ハローキティ新幹線
The super kawaii high speed train!
From July to September 2018, the most kawaii train in the world, with a Hello Kitty theme, will connect Osaka with Fukuoka, in northern Kyushu.
A Hello Kitty train to USJ, Osaka, in 2015
A previous themed-Shinkansen, this one for the anime Evangelion
To read: Taking the train in Japan
A link between the metropolis of Osaka and the western regions of Japan
It was the JR West Railway Co. that had the idea to decorate two of its Shinkansen trains with the theme of Hello Kitty, in order to boost travel in the western region of Japan. Trains will stop at all stations between Shin-Osaka and Hakata Station in Fukuoka. According to the company, the design, with Hello Kitty's famous pink ribbon, symbolizes the links between the regions of western Japan.
The world of Hello Kitty
The trains that will transport happy travelers are two Kodama Shinkansen 500 series - the Kodama 730 (Hakata to Shin-Osaka) and the Kodama 741 (Shin-Osaka to Hakata). Pink and white, and decorated both outside and inside with illustrations of the world-famous little cat, the first two of eight cars are entirely devoted to the world of Hello Kitty.
See also: Sanrio Puroland
The first car, called "Hello! Plaza" showcases local specialties and souvenirs of the area that are also available to buy. There are eight original Hello Kitty designs, each with Kitty holding a regional product, that represent the eight prefectures that make up the JR West area (Tottori, Shimane, Osaka, Hyogo, Okayama, Hiroshima, Yamaguchi and Fukuoka). You can also watch videos promoting the regions of western Japan.
The second car, called the "Kawaii Room", is definitely aptly named! The floor, windows and walls are covered with images of Kitty and her friends. There are seats where you can sit for a while and appreciate the kawaii decor, and there's a large Hello Kitty model, wearing the Shinkansen staff uniform, awaiting fans for a unforgettable photo-op.
The passenger cars have purple and pink seats, with a white or pink headrest cover decorated with Kitty's face. The carpeted floor is pale pink dotted with white spots and the signature bow that Hello Kitty wears.
Of course, this being Japan, a multitude of themed goods of the beloved Sanrio character are on sale aboard this Shinkansen!
And as a final cute touch, when approaching a station the train will play an original melody, inspired by Kitty, replacing the usual train jingle.
What a way to travel!
Good news: the train is accessible at no extra charge and is covered by the JR Pass! However, it is strongly recommended to book in advance. While some of the seats are unreserved, you'll have to wait in long queues on the platform, with no guarantee of getting on board, if you don't book ahead.