Cuteness is big in Japan—so much so that the Japanese word for “cute,” kawaii, is known worldwide. Kawaii‘s main ambassador is, of course, Sanrio’s Hello Kitty, a fictional beribboned bobtail cat, born in 1970, who sells the hell out of delightful lunch boxes, clothes, and school supplies.
Now the cat will also have her own high-speed bullet train. The Western Japan Railway Company will begin running a themed shinkansen on June 30, decorated with Hello Kitty images, headrests, armrests, and ribbons, plus a life-size doll for traveler photo opportunities.
The first car of the train is called “Hello! Plaza.” That’s where people can mingle, because it is Hello Kitty’s dream to bring together communities, as she says on the railway company’s “pink shinkansen” website. Car two is called—you guessed it—Kawaii! Room. That’s where people can sit in separate seats while enjoying pink armrests, adorableness, and high-speed travel.
The train is slated to make daily round trips between Shin-Osaka Station in Osaka Prefecture and Hakata in Fukuoka Prefecture. This is the second themed bullet train venture by the railroad, according to the Japan Times—it recently ran an animation-inspired train, based on the series “Neon Genesis Evangelion.” The Hello Kitty train will travel for a limited time, though just how long the speedy kitty’s run will last isn’t clear.
The collaboration between Sanrio and the Western Japan Railway Company is meant to promote local attractions and sell specialty goods. But the special bullet train also has a kawaii backstory.
According to the railway company’s website, the pink shinkansen is the product of Hello Kitty’s dream. While sleeping, she dreamt that she met the spirit of a ribbon, and asked it for help with her goal of connecting people. When the ambassador of adorableness woke from this reverie, she was wearing a railway worker’s uniform, standing at a station, and there was a white bullet train wrapped in pink ribbons. She exclaimed, “Pink shinkansen!”