Hello Kitty has been delighting the world since her introduction by Sanrio in 1974. Along with her friends, Kitty has invaded just about every market imaginable. From television shows and children’s toys to theme parks and fine jewelry — now it's time for Japan's beloved bullet train to get the Hello Kitty treatment.
Hello Kitty Shinkansen is perhaps the world's cutest train and started out as a Sanrio-JR West collaboration back in 2018. The high-speed service travels between Shin-Osaka and Fukuoka's Hakata on a 4.5 hour trip. But what exactly makes this pretty-in-pink train so enticing?
Inside the Hello Kitty Shinkansen
This bright pink-and-gold shinkansen crosses through six prefectures, each with their own unique Hello Kitty mascot. The ribbon motif running along the train's windows embodies the wish to join hands and connect each region. You can even spot Kitty-chan in full train staff attire as she welcomes you onboard.
The real sweet treat is inside of course. Get wrapped up in the "Hello! Plaza" carriage: a pink wonderland of charming photo opportunities. You’ll be seeing Kitty for days in this unique gift shop that sells all manner of limited-edition station master Kitty goods. Be sure to snag your favorites because this train—as a reminder—runs one-way and only once a day.
The second main carriage is aptly named "Kawaii! Room". This passenger car is decked out with pretty purple-and-pink plush chairs, pastel pink carpets, and Kitty-decorated window shutters. Ride along with Kitty in all of her glory in this carriage. The rest of the cars are decorated but to a lesser degree, so if you want the full experience for your whole ride, this is the place to be.
Where can Kitty take you?
Leaving from Shin-Osaka at 6:32 am and from Hakata Station at 11:32 am, the Hello Kitty Shinkansen is an experience like no other. There are a total of 18 stops along the track going through six prefectures:
- Osaka: Shin-Osaka
- Hyogo: Shin-Kobe, Nishi-Akashi, Himeji, and Aioi
- Okayama: Okayama and Shin-Kurashiki
- Hiroshima: Fukuyama, Shin-Onomichi, Mihara, Higashi-Hiroshima, and Hiroshima
- Yamaguchi: Shin-Iwakuni, Tokuyama, Shin-Yamaguchi, Asa, and Shin-Shimonoseki
- Fukuoka: Kokura and Hakata
There are plenty of great places to get off at or even ride all the way to the end. You’re sure to have an adventure that even Kitty-chan approves of.
How to ride the Hello Kitty Shinkansen
Tickets can be purchased on the day of your ride or in advance. And the Hello Kitty Shinkansen accepts a variety of passes and tickets. With three non-reserved cars and three for reserved seating (take note that the Kawaii! Room is non-reserved), you can be sure to get a great seat no matter where you sit.
The JR-West Rail Pass provides unlimited rides and is even valid for this cute experience. But there are plenty of passes that also work:
Non-reserved seating passes:
- Kansai Wide Area Pass
- Kansai-Hiroshima Area Pass
- Hiroshima-Yamaguchi Area Pass
- Okayama-Hiroshima-Yamaguchi Area Pass
- Setouchi Area Pass
- Kansai-Hokuriku Area Pass
Reserved seating passes:
If you need help, just stop by the JR Ticket Office (Midori no Madoguchi) and ask for assistance.
Find Kitty all around Japan
Looking for a fast—but maybe adorable—ride between Kansai Airport and Kyoto. Well, with stops at Tennoji and Shin-Osaka, going all the way to Kyoto, you can ride in kawaii class on the Hello Kitty Haruka. There are four uniquely decorated trains for passengers to ride.
If you’re looking to spend a day with Kitty-chan and her friends, look no further than Sanrio Puroland. Opened in 1990 in Tama New Town, Tokyo, Sanrio Puroland is an indoor theme park. Here, guests can frolic and play with the Hello Kitty crew. In summer, you can even enjoy fireworks shows and live theater shows.
Sanrioworld and Questina shops in Ginza, Tokyo, offer customers a chance to find their favorite characters’ merchandise. Ranging from the inexpensive at Sanrioland to the pricier goods at Questina. This shop in Ginza is sure to give you your fill of pink, cute, and Kitty.