The West Japan Railway Co. or JR West revealed in March of 2018 that they are introducing a special-themed Shinkansen in a few months — the Hello Kitty Shinkansen!
Information on the Hello Kitty Shinkansen
The Hello Kitty Shinkansen will be comprised of eight 500-series Kodama train cars that will feature the popular Sanrio character, and will run along the Sanyo Shinkansen Line, between Shin-Osaka Station in Osaka and Hakata Station in Fukuoka.
Car 1 of the train will be transformed into a shop, with a wide variety of local goods and items that originate from the different parts of western Japan. It will not have any seats. Car 2, meanwhile, will become a kawaii room of pink, filled with all sorts of Hello Kitty merchandise and decorations. Expect the exterior of the bullet train to also be adorned with the famous cartoon character’s pink and white motif.
The project plans to run the Hello Kitty Shinkansen once a day. As of this moment, no detailed timetable, and start and end dates of service has been released yet.
In the past, JR West has also worked in cooperation with other franchises to promote their trains.
In 2015, they introduced an Evangelion-themed bullet train along the Sanyo Shinkansen Line, which travelled between Hakata Station in Fukuoka and Shin-Osaka Station in Osaka. It ran twice a day, and finally had its last trip on May 13, 2018.
That same year, they also had a Harry Potter Shinkansen, which linked Shin-Osaka Station in Osaka and Kagoshima-Chuo Station in Kagoshima, along the Sanyo Shinkansen Line; and Shin-Osaka Station in Osaka and Hakata Station in Fukuoka, along the Kyushu Shinkansen Line. It featured Shinkansen Hikari and Shinkansen Sakura trains decorated with images of Hedwig soaring above Hogwarts.
Sanrio Puroland – A must-visit for Hello Kitty fans in Japan
Situated in Tokyo’s Tama New Town, Sanrio Puroland is an indoor Hello Kitty theme park that was first opened to the public in 1990. It is home to an array of rides, attractions, and restaurants that feature not only Hello Kitty, but also Jewelpet, My Melody, and Cinnamoroll. It also has many shops and boutiques where you can buy different kinds of clothes, accessories, souvenirs, and other merchandise.
Every year, it welcomes more than 1.5 million visitors that come from different parts of Japan and the world. It can easily be accessed by trains:
- Option 1: Take the Odakyu Tama Line to Odakyu Tama Center Station.
- Option 2: Take the Keio Sagamihara Line to Keio Tama Center Station.
- Option 3: Take the Tama City Monorail to Tama Center Station.
The theme park is about a 10-minute walk away.
For tickets, opening hours, and other information, visit the Sanrio Puroland official website.
Getting to know Hello Kitty
Launched in the early 1970s, Hello Kitty is a female cartoon character created by Japanese designer Yuko Shimizu and produced by Sanrio. Contrary to popular belief, she is not a cat, even though her features are that of a feline. She has no mouth, has whiskers, and wears a red bow, and is said to be about the age of a 3rd-grader.
Hello Kitty first appeared on merchandise in Japan in 1974. She was featured on a vinyl coin purse, where she can be seen sitting between a goldfish bowl and a bottle of milk. The product was well-received, and helped significantly boost Sanrio’s sales. Since then, she has appeared on countless items, including dolls, clothes, school supplies, greeting cards, accessories and jewelry, and even computer equipment and home appliances.
Television and movies
Through the years, various Hello Kitty television series have been created. The first one was called Hello Kitty’s Furry Tale Theater, which aired in 1987 and was made up of 13 episodes. In 1993, a 13-episode Original Video Animation called Hello Kitty and Friends was released. It was followed by Hello Kitty’s Paradise, a 16-episode long series, which aired in 1999; Hello Kitty’s Stump Village, which was released in 2005; and The Adventures of Hello Kitty & Friends, which consist of 52 episodes and came out in 2006.
The longest-running Hello Kitty show on television was titled Hello Kitty’s Paradise, which aired from January of 1999 to March of 2011 on TXN. It was a weekly live action program that catered to children.
On the big screen, Hello Kitty, alongside Bad Badtz-Maru and Keroppi, had cameos in Ready Player One, a sci-fi film by Steven Spielberg released in 2018. There is also a full-length Hello Kitty movie planned for release in 2019.
Music, games, and other media
Hello World is a music album composed of Hello Kitty-inspired tunes. It features a variety of musicians, such as Ainjel Emme, Cori Yarckin, and Keke Palmer.
In Japan, a number of Hello Kitty video games were created, including Hello Kitty Hanabatake in 1992, Hello Kitty’s Big Fun Piano in 1994, Hello Kitty’s Cube Frenzy in 1998, Hello Kitty: Big City Dreams in 2008, Hello Kitty Online in 2009, and Hello Kitty Kruisers in 2014.
Other Hello Kitty-themed establishments around the world
Today, there are several Hello Kitty-themed cafes and restaurants worldwide.
In 2008, a Hello Kitty restaurant in Taipei, Taiwan was opened. Called Hello Kitty Sweets, it boasts of an interior that gives you as much Hello Kitty as you want. They have plates, cups, and other wares that feature the beloved character.
In Sydney, Australia, you can find a Hello Kitty Diner, and in Hong Kong, there is a Hello Kitty dim sum restaurant in the Kowloon area.
In South Korea, such as in Seoul, you can find many Hello Kitty cafes that serve themed snacks and food items. You can also check out some of them in other countries, like Thailand (Bangkok), USA (Irvine, California), and Australia (Adelaide).
There is even a medical facility that showcases this theme. In 2008, a maternity hospital in Yuanlin, Taiwan was opened, and it uses bed linens, blankets, and other equipment that feature Hello Kitty. Even the nurses’ uniforms and birth certificate covers have her images too!