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?

Plenty of pink and cute happening here!
Plenty of pink and cute happening here! (Photo: Jeena Paradies from Varberg, Schweden / CC BY 2.0)

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.

Welcome aboard
Welcome aboard (Photo: ItzaVU / Shutterstock.com)

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.

Those plush seats looks so comfortable!
Those plush seats looks so comfortable! (Photo: Rsa / CC BY-SA 3.0)

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:

Reserved seating passes:

The easy way to book shinkansen tickets if you aren't fluent
The easy way to book shinkansen tickets if you aren't fluent (Photo: Own Work / CC BY-SA 3.0)

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.

The Haruka trains are too cute!
The Haruka trains are too cute! (Photo: SEASONposter / CC BY-SA 4.0)

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.

Get you fill of Hello Kitty and friends at Puroland
Get you fill of Hello Kitty and friends at Puroland (Photo: Laika ac from UK / CC BY-SA 2.0)

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.

Visit for some truly spectacular merchandise
Visit for some truly spectacular merchandise (Photo: othree / CC BY 2.0)