A Shinkansen bullet train debuts on West Japan Railway adorned with special Hello Kitty livery.
A bullet train with an exterior and interior smothered in the familiar pink and white images of the Japanese icon Hello Kitty began services at the weekend, attracting hundreds of fans to the opening ceremony on Saturday before chugging into service.
The shinkansen train departed Hakata station in Fukuoka for Osaka, the conductor dressed in a Hello Kitty outfit complete with pink ribbon, local media and The Guardian newspaper report.
The train will run between Osaka and Fukuoka for the next three months, and the West Japan Railway Company says it hopes that Hello Kitty – one of the country’s most famous exports – will boost tourism in the region.
Inside, the animated icon smiles on passengers everywhere you look, while in one of the carriages a “life-sized Hello Kitty doll” – an actor dressed up – poses for fans to take selfies with.
In one of the other carriages, regional dishes and products are served to boost the local economy and tourism industry.
Since her debut in 1974, Hello Kitty has spawned a multi-billion-dollar industry, and besides covering everything from pencil cases to pyjamas she has also been used to increase traffic on aircraft and buses.
It is not the first time West Japan Railway Company has invested in a franchise’s imagery to boost travel. In 2015, a Hogwarts Express-styled bullet train covered in Harry Potter imagery trundled between Osaka and the seaside city and volcano of Kagoshima.