Last Updated on 2nd July 2023 by Sophie Nadeau
Everything is pink, fun, and Hello Kitty themed- including the toilets! Welcome aboard the Hello Kitty Shinkansen, a super Kawaii bullet train service operate by Japan Rail West Co. (JR West). Here’s how to ride on the Hello Kitty Shinkansen, as well as what to know before you go.
I wasn’t sure that we would actually be able to take the Hello Kitty train while in Japan as I didn’t think it would fit in our schedule. I first heard about the train a few years ago and saw that it would be running during our trip.
The Hello Kitty train doesn’t run every day of the week so you can check the schedule in advance here if you know this is something you want to fit into your itinerary.
On one lucky day, when we were running late to reach Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter as a day trip from Osaka, we arrived on the platform and there it was.
Exterior of the Hello Kitty Shinkansen
The entire train is decked out with the cutest Hello Kitty details; even the front of the train is pink and the entirety of the carriages exterior’s are decorated with little motifs of the little cat.
Eight special Hello Kitty designs have been created to celebrate the route and each region that is served on the route is highlighted.
Though Hello Kitty’s favourite food are red apples, in these special designs, Hello Kitty is holding things like a green apple for Tottori prefecture, a strawberry for Fukuoka, and a black shell for Shimane prefecture.
Interior of the Hello Kitty Shinkansen
The front of the second carriage is home to a Hello Kitty kawaii room where you can take photos with a life sized Hello Kitty, as well as an adorable map which plots out the route which the themed train takes.
The rest of the carriage is pretty cute too, and there are Hello Kitty blinds, seat covers, and even a Hello Kitty floor. I actually walked through all the carriages on the train and, while not every carriage goes into the level of detail that carriage 2 goes into, every carriage has some sort of themed sticker, etc.
The first carriage is called Hello! Plaza and you can buy hello kitty Shinkansen merchandise, including plush toys! I had to buy one for myself! There are no seats in this carriage.
There are a number of different goods for sale, including sweets and stationery. The scale models of the Hello Kitty Shinkansen are actually ekiben (lunch boxes). There is also a photo booth at the very front, where you can take photos with the Hello Kitty plush toys.
How to take the Hello Kitty Shinkansen
The train operates between Shin-Osaka and Fukuoka (Hakata), once a day in each direction on the Sanyo Shinkansen line. The train stops at every station on the route, making it the slowest kind of train service, but allowing passengers more adorable time on the Hello Kitty train!
It’s a Kodama service, meaning that it’s one of the train services which you can use with the Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass users are not allowed to use the fastest Shinkansen services- check Japan Rail prices here).
Important stops en route include Kobe and Hiroshima. You can hop on at any stage of the journey and only have to ride for a single station if you so desire. If you don’t have a Japan Rail Pass this is the most cost effective thing to do.
However, do make sure you spend enough time to visit the Hello Kitty Plaza and Hello Kitty Photo Booth if you want to see them. there’s often a queue to purchase the souvenirs (I waited around 15 minutes to purchase my Hello Kitty plush toy) and a further five minutes to take a photo in the photo area.
If you board or get off the train at Hakata Station in Fukuoka, then it’s worth noting that there is a special Hello Kitty café and souvenir shop selling JR West merchandise and edible treats. If it’s your first time in japan, then be sure to check out our top Japan tips to know before you go.
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