One of Japan’s most recognizable cartoon icons will now grace the side of a bullet train. A white and pink Hello Kitty-themed bullet train is about to begin a three month run between Osaka and Fukuoka on Sunday. The West Japan Railway hopes the use of a famous local character will boost tourism. Hello Kitty branding will appear on the windows, seat covers, and flooring.
The train will be unique in other ways, too. The first carriage, for example, will have no seats, but will allow passengers to buy regional goods and foods from western Japan. Another carriage will have a giant Hello Kitty doll, where fans can pose for photos. If it sounds more like an amusement park than a train — that’s part of the plan to attract tourists.
The Hello Kitty character was created in 1974 by Yuko Shimizu, and has since become a wildly popular brand worldwide — but especially in Japan — worth billions of dollars.
We certainly expect to see an influx of Hello Kitty-themed Instagram posts coming out of Japan, as more and more tourists discover this new photo opportunity.