Hello Kitty Shinkansen Cafe: A delicious stop on the most kawaii bullet train in Japan

Get on board with the country’s cutest Shinkansen at its official limited-time cafe.

Wherever you go in Japan, there’s always something new and exciting happening to pique the interest of locals and visiting tourists, and this summer everyone’s scrambling to get a seat on the a Hello Kitty Shinkansen bullet train.

The new high-speed train, which began running on 30 June, is currently shuttling passengers to and from Osaka’s Shin-Osaka Station and Hakata Station in Fukuoka on the Sanyo Shinkansen line. Adorned inside and out with details dedicated to Sanrio’s world-famous character, this is a journey that Hello Kitty fans from around the world are keen to take, but if you’re not able to make the trip, don’t despair – the train now has a Hello Kitty Shinkansen cafe open for a limited time as well.

While a peek inside the Shinkansen itself is limited only to passengers who’ve booked a ticket on the train, the Hello Kitty Shinkansen Cafe is open for everyone to visit. However, seeing as it’s located past the turnstiles inside Hakata Station, if you’re not taking a train you’ll need to buy a platform ticket, which costs 140 yen (US$1.27) for adults and 70 yen for children, and has a two-hour time limit.

Once you’re inside, the cafe is easy to find, as it shines bright like a beacon covered in pretty pink bows. Out the front is a faux Hello Kitty Shinkansen platform, which acts as a photo spot for tourists, showing Kitty dressed in her rail attendant uniform, standing next to her equally cute-looking train.

Once you’ve stopped for a photo, it’s time to head inside, where even more cuteness awaits.

▼ First, there’s a beautiful miniature model of the limited-edition bullet train.

▼ Once you sit down, you get to receive a pretty placemat…

▼ And if you order a drink with your meal you can choose from one of 20 cute coasters.

When we visited, we were given a selection of two menus: the cafe’s regular menu, which also comes with a special morning selection…

And the far more colourful and appealing Hello Kitty Shinkansen menu, which offers up goodies like: a Pollock Cream Pasta for 1,200 yen; a Sweets Plate for 1,000 yen; a Parfait for 800 yen; a Float for 700 yen; a Cream Daifuku Japanese Sweet and Coffee Set for 700 yen, and an adorable cappuccino for 700 yen.

We decided to splurge by ordering the most expensive, and most hearty, dish on the menu: the cute Hello Kitty Curry for 1,500 yen. And to make sure we received a free cute coaster, we added an iced coffee to our meal for 300 yen.

When the curry arrived, we were pleasantly surprised to find that it looked just as adorable as it did in the picture!

Hello Kitty, decked out in an edible train conductor hat, was bursting out from the plate, surrounded by a deliciously sweet and flavourful curry. Adding to the kawaii cuteness of the meal were star-shaped carrots and a star-shaped meat patty and fried potato, along with a heart-shaped croquette. Just looking at this dish filled us with happiness as we ate our meal!

For fans who prefer to take Hello Kitty home rather than eat her, there’s also a special shop at the station, located in the Hikari Square area outside of the turnstiles.

Here fans can fill up on all sorts of limited-edition merchandise dedicated to the unique Shinkansen train collaboration, including cute keyrings and stationery.

If you’re a Hello Kitty fan heading to Fukuoka, you’ll definitely have a good time at the new store and cafe at Hakata Station. And if you’re able to step onboard the Hello Kitty Shinkansen, there’s even more cuteness in store for you, with its amazing kawaii interiors.

Cafe Information

Hello Kitty Shinkansen Cafe / ハローキティ新幹線カフェ
Address: Fukuoka-ken, Fukuoka-shi, Hakata-ku Hakata Eki Chuo-gai 1-1
Hours: 7 a.m.-9 p.m. every day

Related: Hello Kitty Shinkansen Official Page
Photos © SoraNews24 

All Japan Railway Tokyo trains to finally get security cameras starting this summer

Decision comes following Shinkansen slashing, but hopefully will also curb train groping.

Just under a month ago, a man traveling on the Shinkansen bullet train running between Tokyo and Osaka and began attacking passengers with a knife, injuring two women and killing one man who intervened to protect them. Now, East Japan Railway (also known as JR East) has announced that it will be installing security cameras on all trains it operates in and around the Tokyo area.

In addition to the Shinkansen, JR East operates some of the most heavily trafficked train lines in the country, including the Yamanote loop line which runs around central Tokyo. While the design of the company’s newest trains has included onboard security cameras, only a portion of its older rolling stock has had the devices. On July 3, though, JR East announced that is going to change. Under its new policy, all cars on all Tokyo-area trains will have security cameras, with eight devices on each standard train car and two per car on the Shinkansen and other special express trains (with an additional camera in the between-car connection areas).

The undertaking will add cameras to roughly 8,500 cars, with additions to standard trains starting this summer. Older model Shinkansen carriages will begin getting their new cameras this winter.

While the timing of the announcement suggests that the Shinkansen slashing incident was a major impetus, the move towards increased monitoring may also prove helpful in deterring non-violent crimes as well. For years, part of the problem in anti-chikan (train groper) measures has been that hopping off at the next stop and disappearing into the crowd has given them an easy escape. Hopefully the potential presence of video evidence will serve as a deterrent, or, at the very least, an effective means by which the authorities can identify, track down, and prosecute offenders.

Source: Nihon Keizai Shimbun via Jin
Top image: Pakutaso

Drinking party breaks out on Tokyo Station platform as Shinkansen delay strands travelers

Booze fans pass the time in a quintessentially Japanese way, while their younger counterparts opt for a more athletic method.

Despite a well-deserved reputation for reliability and punctuality, Japan’s trains do sometimes encounter problems and end up running behind schedule. This can even happen with the Shinkansen bullet trains, the pride of operator Japan Railway.

On Sunday afternoon, a Shinkansen train left Tokyo station at roughly 12:20, heading north along the Tohoku Shinkansen line, and things were fine until about an hour and a half later. After it pulled out of Sendai Station, though, an undisclosed mechanical issue caused the conductor to stop the train, which in turn shut down the entire line while a team of inspectors investigated and rectified the problem.

That process ended up taking over five hours, which left plenty of travelers stuck at the station while they waited for service to resume. Things were especially crowded in Tokyo Station, where Japanese Twitter user @Thrill_Junky snapped this photo of the congested conditions near the Shinkansen ticket gates.

Up on the platform, though, the atmosphere was decidedly more jovial, where a group of older men decided to bust out the booze and snacks they’d intended to consume on the train and have a drinking party right there on the ground.

Because Shinkansen seats always have trays, it’s common for alcohol-appreciative travelers to crack open a cold one (or two) as they zoom about the high-speed rail network. These gentleman had stocked up accordingly, but with no refrigerator to keep their libations chilled, they came to the conclusion that the only sensible thing to do was to drink them before they got too warm.

Meanwhile, further up the line in Aomori Prefecture, stranded Shinkansen travelers waiting on the platform of Hachinohe Station were provided with some surprise entertainment.

Among those who suddenly had time on their hand was a college gymnastics team, and instead of using that empty space to plop themselves down in a drinking circle, they instead popped off a series of back flips.

Shinkansen service was finally resumed at around 7:30, but the examples shown here serve as a reminder that when travelling, just because you’re not making progress towards your destination doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the journey.

Sources: Twitter/@Thrill_Junky via Jin, Mainichi Shimbun, TBS News, NHK News Web
Featured image: Twitter/@Thrill_Junky

Shinkansen stabbing suspect tells police he will commit another crime if released from prison

Police treating attack that left one dead, two injured as premeditated.

At roughly 9:45 on the evening of June 9, while onboard a Shinkansen bullet train running between Tokyo and Osaka, 22-year-old Ichiro Kojima took a knife out of his backpack and began slashing two women, also in their 20s, who were seated near him. Kotaro Umeda, a 38-year-old businessman returning to his home in central Japan following a business trip to Yokohama, bravely came to the women’s defense, allowing them to escape but losing his life as Kojima turned his attacks on him.

Kojima, an unemployed resident of the town of Okazaki in Aichi Prefecture, was subdued and turned over to the Kanagawa Prefectural police after the train arrived at Odawara Station. He currently awaits trial, but further details are emerging as he is questioned by investigators.

Kojima has told the police that he purchased the knife he used in March, and the incident is now being treated as a premeditated crime, though Kojima did not know any of the victims prior to the attack. More disturbing still, though, is that he has also stated that if he is released from prison, he will commit a crime again.

Though Kojima did not explicitly specify that this hypothetical crime would also be a homicide, that very much seems to be the implication, as the Shinkansen stabbing appears to be his only significant run-in with the law. Considering Japanese society’s widespread support of the death penalty, Kojima’s lack of remorse may be a sign that he’s hoping the authorities will end his life for him, though prosecutors have yet to issue a statement as to what sort of punishment they’ll be seeking.

Sources: Livedoor News/TV Asahi News via Hachima Kiko, Nitele News 24 via Hachima Kiko, The Mainichi
Top image: Pakutaso

Human body parts found in crack on bonnet of Shinkansen bullet train

About 200 passengers were on board when the discovery was made.

At around 2:10 p.m. on 14 June, the Nozomi No. 176 Superexpress Shinkansen headed to Tokyo from Hakata made a regular stop at Kokura Station in Kyushu’s northernmost city of Kitakyushu, where a large crack on its bonnet was discovered.

Despite the damage, the train continued on its journey, travelling over the Kanmon Strait to the main island of Honshu, where the vehicle underwent a more thorough inspection at Shin-Shimonoseki Station in Yamaguchi Prefecture. This is when staff discovered part of a human body wedged inside the damaged section of the train.

Trains running both ways on the Sanyo Shinkansen line between Hiroshima and Hakata were immediately cancelled for the day, causing extensive delays to other services, including the Kyushu Shinkansen and the Tokaido Shinkansen. None of the 200 passengers or crewmembers onboard the damaged 16-car Nozomi Shinkansen were injured.

▼ News reports showed the damaged train at Shin-Shimonoseki Station after the incident.

According to West Japan Rail, no abnormality other than exterior damage was apparent at Kokura Station, which is why the driver continued to the mainland. Following the grim discovery, however, officials believe that the train came into contact with a person who entered the tracks inside a tunnel between Hakata and Kokura stations in Fukuoka Prefecture. Fukuoka Prefectural Police later confirmed that multiple human body parts were found near the Ishisaka tunnel in the prefecture’s Yahata Nishi Ward.

An initial investigation into the incident revealed that the driver had heard a strange noise at the time, but continued without making a report. Furthermore, the station attendant at Kokura Station checked on the safety of the passengers, but was unaware of any damage to the train.

A spokesperson for JR West said that the driver had experienced hitting a small animal in the past, and made the decision not to stop as there was no threat to passenger safety. The driver assumed this was another such incident, and therefore did not think it was necessary to stop for safety reasons.

The spokesperson told local media that the train should have been stopped and inspected, and said that they will ensure staff are properly instructed so correct measures can be followed in future.

Source: Yahoo News, Mainichi Shimbun via Hachima Kiko
Featured image: Flickr/Ankur P

Shinkansen: “Seats can be quickly used as shields in the event of an attack”

A part of what makes Japan’s bullet trains’ service so great can also save lives.

On the evening of 9 June chaos broke out on the Nozomi 259 train running between Osaka and Tokyo as a person with a knife began randomly attacking passengers, killing one and injuring two. News reports since then have told several stories of the panic and fear that survivors experienced, and among those were mentions of passengers using the seats as shields.

However, according to a report by Asahi Shimbun, those holding seats weren’t doing so out of desperation. They were following instructions from the conductors on board who themselves had been trained to use the seats this way in the event of an attack.

On most Shinkansen trains, all passenger seats have the ability to be easily removed by pulling up from the front with your hand to lift it off. The seats have a 44 square-centimeter (7 square inch) surface area, are six centimeters (2.4 inches) thick, and weigh about a kilogram (2.2 pounds).

Although handy as an impromptu instrument of self-defense, that wasn’t the original intent of making these seats so easy to pop off.

Longtime readers might recall a story we did about four years ago highlighting the Shinkansen’s cleaning staff and their seemingly impossible task of cleaning the entire train in only seven minutes during stops at terminals such as Tokyo.

In instances where a seat is severely stained or damaged, there would be no way to clean or repair it in such a short window of time. So, with the grace and skill of an F-1 pit crew, they just slide the whole thing off and replace it with a new one in a matter of seconds.

It’s simply a tragic matter of coincidence that these time-saving tools are now being presented as life-saving shields. Hopefully, you’ll never need to know this, and the most offensive encounter you’ll ever have on the Shinkansen is with Mr. Sato drinking a cup of smelly meat dumplings.

But if you ever do find yourself in a horrible situation on the Shinkansen, don’t forget that your first line of defense is right underneath you.

Source: Asahi Shimbun
Top image: Wikipedia/Tennen-Gas

Hello Kitty Shinkansen looks set to be cutest Japanese train ever with special kawaii interiors

JR West has finally revealed what the new bullet train will look like inside. 

It was a sad day when the Evangelion Shinkansen made its last journey on the rails on 13 May. But where one door closes, another one opens, and that’s exactly what happened this week, as West Japan Railway finally let us all peek inside their new Hello Kitty Shinkansen, which is set to make its debut next month.

The new high-speed train will run on the Sanyo Shinkansen line from Osaka’s Shin-Osaka Station to Hakata Station in Fukuoka, and it’s all about Hello Kitty helping to “tie and bind customers to the region“ with symbolic bows and ribbons on the outside of the train, and on the inside too.

▼ The carriages will be wrapped in a pink-and-white colour scheme, with Hello Kitty’s signature bow showcased along the length of a pastel ribbon.

Like the Evangelion Shinkansen which came before it, this special Hello Kitty model will have exclusive design features in its first and second carriages. The first car, called “Hello! Plaza” will feature a pastel pink interior, with polka dots, stripes, and ribbon and bow accents, along with images of Hello Kitty dressed up in her exclusive train-crew uniform.

This first carriage is where passengers will be able to take a break and purchase regional-exclusive goods and watch videos promoting various areas in western Japan, starting first with the “San’in Destination Campaign“, which is set to showcase the prefectures of Shimane and Tottori in the San’in region until September. From October, Yamaguchi will be featured, followed by dedicated goods and video screenings for Osaka, Hyogo, Okayama, Hiroshima, and Fukuoka prefectures later in the year.

The second carriage, called “Kawaii! Room” will feature a comfortable seating area for passengers, with pink Hello Kitty armrests, decorated windows and floors, and headrests printed with an image of the cute Sanrio character alongside the words “Hello Kitty Shinkansen”.

This is where you’ll also find the dedicated “photo spot”, which provides you with the perfect backdrop for all those images you’ll need to post on social media to commemorate your unique Shinkansen experience.

And the fun doesn’t stop there, as JR West is planning to replace the usual in-car chime (used when approaching stations) with an original Hello Kitty melody. There’s a whole other slew of goodies in store as well, with campaigns like “stamp rallies” where passengers can receive prizes for imprinting sheets with ink stamps at various locations, and other exciting collaborations planned for the future.

▼ The new video shows some of the special regional Hello Kitty designs we can expect to find on goods aboard the train.

The Hello Kitty Shinkansen will be making its debut on 30 June for a limited time. To find out more about the train schedule and ticket purchasing, check out the special website here, and if you do get to hop on board the exclusive bullet train, you might want to take a look over here for some outfits to help you look as good as Hello Kitty while riding the rails.

Images: Hello Kitty Shinkansen