Hello Kitty bullet train debuts

The Hello Kitty-themed shinkansen bullet train is unveiled at the JR Shin Osaka station in western Japan on Saturday. (AP Photo)

TOKYO: A Hello Kitty-themed bullet train has made its debut in Japan. Adorned with the cartoon icon inside and out, it’s a dream ride for fans of the internationally popular character.

The special pink shinkansen had its inaugural round trip on Saturday between Osaka and Fukuoka, connecting Japan’s west and south.

In Osaka, the train’s final stop, about 400 fans waited for the arrival, cheering and taking photos during its 16-minute stopover before it headed back to Fukuoka.

The stylish, eight-car train is painted pink and white, showcasing Hello Kitty images and trademark ribbons from flooring to seat covers and windows.

In one car, a life-size Hello Kitty doll donning a train crew uniform and a hat — decorated with a pink bow, of course — greets passengers, offering a chance for selfies.

Another car has no passenger seats but offers regional specialities, including a selection of goods and foods, in a bid to boost the local economy and tourism.

The train will run for the next three months between Osaka and Fukuoka, the West Japan Railway Company said, hoping that one of the country’s most famous exports will boost tourism.

Hello Kitty has spawned a multi-billion-dollar industry since Sanrio Co introduced it in 1974, adorning everything from pencil cases, backpacks and pyjamas to double-decker buses and airliners.

In 2015 the West Japan Railway Co unveiled a Hogwarts Express Harry Potter-themed bullet train that ran between Osaka and Kagoshima in western Japan.

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