Peak Japan: special Hello Kitty bullet train debuts

The special Shinkansen, or bullet train, will run for the next three months between the western cities of Osaka and Fukuoka

This handout picture taken on June 25, 2018 and released by West Japan Railway on June 26, 2018 shows a Shinkansen train adorned with special livery bearing popular character Hello Kitty, at the Hakata car maintenance centre in Fukuoka prefecture.
Resplendent in shocking pink, a sleek "Hello Kitty" bullet train, complete with special carriages festooned with images of the global icon from Japan, has been unveiled before chugging into service this week starting June 25. / AFP PHOTO / West Japan Railway / Handout / -----EDITORS NOTE --- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / West Japan Railway" - NO MARKETING - NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS - NO ARCHIVES

Resplendent in shocking pink, a sleek "Hello Kitty" bullet train, complete with special carriages festooned with images of the global icon from Japan, has been unveiled before it speeds into service this week.

The special Shinkansen, or bullet train, will run for the next three months between the western cities of Osaka and Fukuoka from Saturday, the West Japan Railway firm said, hoping that one of the country's most famous exports will boost tourism.

This handout picture taken on June 25, 2018 and released by West Japan Railway on June 26, 2018 shows the interior of a Shinkansen train adorned with images of popular character Hello Kitty, at the Hakata car maintenance center in Fukuoka prefecture.
Resplendent in shocking pink, a sleek "Hello Kitty" bullet train, complete with special carriages festooned with images of the global icon from Japan, has been unveiled before chugging into service this week starting June 25. / AFP PHOTO / West Japan Railway / Handout / -----EDITORS NOTE --- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / West Japan Railway" - NO MARKETING - NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS - NO ARCHIVES

Passengers will be in left in no doubt what train they are on, with Hello Kitty smiling down from the shades of every window and adorning every passenger's seat cover.

One car will feature a "life-size Hello Kitty doll" – the character is "five apples" tall, according to creator Sanrio – so fans can take selfies, a West Japan Railway spokesman told AFP.

This handout picture taken on June 25, 2018 and released by West Japan Railway on June 26, 2018 shows a photo spot inside a Shinkansen train for passengers to pose with popular character Hello Kitty, as seen at the Hakata car maintenance center in Fukuoka prefecture.
Resplendent in shocking pink, a sleek "Hello Kitty" bullet train, complete with special carriages festooned with images of the global icon from Japan, has been unveiled before chugging into service this week starting June 25. / AFP PHOTO / West Japan Railway / Handout / -----EDITORS NOTE --- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / West Japan Railway" - NO MARKETING - NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS - NO ARCHIVES

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

Hello Kitty has spawned a multibillion-dollar industry since Sanrio introduced it in 1974.

The mouthless cat character adorns everything from pencil cases and pyjamas to double-decker buses and airliners.

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