Starting this weekend, train passengers in western Japan will have the option of riding in a very particular sort of style.
A Hello Kitty-themed bullet train will begin daily service Saturday between the western Japanese cities of Osaka and Fukuoka, the Japan Times reports. The pink-and-white train will run for three months “with the aim of revitalizing regional communities in western Japan,” according to the line’s operator, West Japan Railway Co. [JR West], which unveiled the train to the media Monday.
Passengers and fans of the beloved character won’t just enjoy rapid service, but a full Hello Kitty experience, including purchasing tickets on a dedicated website. The train itself is festooned inside-and-out with images of Hello Kitty and her iconic hair bows, from car exteriors to the windows, headrests and carpets. For a limited time, the first car, called “Hello! Plaza,” will house a store with souvenirs and specialty goods, while in the second car riders can pose for photos with a life-sized Hello Kitty statue wearing a train operator’s uniform. The company is also planning to open a Hello Kitty cafe and shop in Fukuoka’s Hakata station to accompany the launch.
“We want Japanese and overseas people from a wide range of generations to enjoy this shinkansen,” said JR West sales director Takehiro Zai, referring to Japan’s network of regional high-speed trains, according to the Japan Times.
Hello Kitty — who is a human girl, not a feline — was introduced by Japanese design company Sanrio in 1974 and has since grown into a multi-billion dollar global brand, spawning themed restaurants, cartoons and fan conventions. In 2014, Hello Kitty even took to the skies with the help of Taiwanese airline EVA Air.
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