Hello Kitty fans rejoice! The beloved Sanrio character's eagerly awaited high-speed bullet train is up and running in Japan.
Last month fans got a look at the concept art for the Hello Kitty bullet train and now the real thing is finally in active service. The special "shinkansen" made its inaugural round-trip journey on Saturday, carrying passengers between Shin-Osaka Station in Osaka Prefecture and Hakata in Fukuoka Prefecture in an eight-car train that truly brought those concept photos to life.
As you can see in the video above, the train is decked out in pink, white, and lots of Hello Kitty. There's a large Hello Kitty statue dressed in a train crew uniform and hat to greet passengers as they come on board as well as a "photo op" area for passengers to document their trip. The train's first car, the "Hello! Plaza" features a gift shop selling Hello Kitty merchandise as well as local specialty goods and is followed by the "Kawaii! Room" with Hello Kitty-themed seats. Hello Kitty also adorns the windows of the train as well. You can check out the train yourself below.
This Hello Kitty train replaces a previous themed train, a promotional vehicle for Neon Genesis Evangelion, which ended its run earlier this year. That train was originally slated to run from November 2015 to spring 2016 but was so overwhelmingly popular with the public that the promotional campaign was extended an additional 18 months. The Hello Kitty train is set to run until September 30 and is already proving popular with fans. USA Today reports that hundreds of fans were waiting for the train when it arrived in Osaka, taking photos and cheering before the train headed back to Fukuoka. If the popularity continues, the train's run could be extended. The news release for the shinkansen released by West Japan Railway Company back in May included complete operation dates and times for the Hello Kitty promotion along with a note that "operation days for October 2018 onwards will be announced as soon as they are decided."
This Japanese Hello Kitty train isn't the first time the iconic cat has graced a high-speed train, either. Back in 2016 a train in Taiwan was done up in Hello Kitty style, allowing passengers to go between Taipei and Taitung in style. That train, however, was a bit less pink. The Taiwanese Hello Kitty train had a "travel around the world with Hello Kitty" theme with each car on that train depicting different travel scenes.
What do you think about this new Hello Kitty bullet train? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!