Review: Hello Kitty Shinkansen (Bullet Train) [Shin-Osaka to Hiroshima]
After staying 5 nights in Osaka, I headed to Hiroshima for 1 night to learn more about the horrific atomic bomb incident back in 1945. In a weird twisted way, my train ride there is anything but grim because of the Hello Kitty-themed bullet train that I had to get on. I guess it would be my “Barbenheimer” moment.
Hello Kitty Shinkansen Schedule
The Hello Kitty Shinkansen is a time-limited train that runs at certain times on the Shin-Osaka-Hakata Station route in the Summer of 2023. Full schedule can be found here. It’s unknown when the next one will appear past September 2023, but this isn’t the first time the Hello Kitty Shinkansen will appear. The train numbers that have the Hello Kitty theme are Kodama 838 and 849. Number may change in the future, however.
The Hello Kitty Shinkansen is priced similarly to normal bullet trains outside of Nozomi, which is the fastest bullet train. The price will depend on which station you’re from and will get off to. The Hello Kitty Shinkansen was covered in the Sanyo San’in Pass from JR West, which covers the Kansai region all the way down to Hakata Station, which is also the last stop of the Hello Kitty Shinkansen westbound.
The train strikes fear into its enemies with its high speed and bright pink decals!
Inside the Hello Kitty Shinkansen
Before getting in to the seats, I’ll start covering the first car of the train, which contains the gift shop where you can buy limited edition of Hello Kitty x JR collaboration merchandise.
I myself bought a Hello Kitty train conductor plushie for around $16.
There are wall arts that showcase different locations in Japan with Hello Kitty theme.
Other than plushies, snacks and Hello Kitty-themed bullet train models are sold.
Hello Kitty Shinkansen Car #2
The seats are donned in lavender color with Hello Kitty Shinkansen logo headrest. Surprisingly, it was quite empty even though I rode the train on a Saturday, and had the row mostly to myself all the way to Hiroshima.
The arm rest and the floor are decorated in similar fashion- pink with Hello Kitty’s signature bow.
Tray table has a good size to have a bento box meal on your journey. While snacks and meals aren’t sold on board, you can typically buy some on the kiosks within a train station.
The bullet train offers overhead compartments for smaller luggages.
There’s free Wi-Fi on board.
The seats themselves are comfortable. The downside is the lack of power outlets which should be typical in a shinkansen.
The reason why you should try to be seated in Car #2 is the ease of access to the gift shops and it’s also the car where most of the Hello Kitty decors are in. In one of them, there are different colored Hello Kitty that’s showcasing what a region of Japan is known for.
The Hello Kitty Shinkansen route range from Shin Osaka all the way to Hakata and vice versa. Whenever the train’s approaching a station, it would play a Hello Kitty jingle.
A standout feature of Car #2 is the big Hello Kitty statue. I see tons of people line up for pictures and selfies.
Across the statue is luggage space for oversized luggage.
Not much has changed for the washroom except for the pink walls.
Urinal remains the same compared to normal bullet trains.
The Hello Kitty Shinkansen was a treat to experience. Beware that even if you happen to travel during the time of its service, you’ll need to plan ahead and know the schedule and train number to be able to ride it.
They put a lot of thoughts into the theme designs and I’m glad to cop some exclusive merchandise in the meantime. My only complaint was the lack of power outlet. Overall, the ride to Hiroshima was smooth and efficient, and hopefully I can ride it again some time in the future.