How to Ride the Hello Kitty Shinkansen In Japan (200 MPH of Cuteness)

It’s cute, it’s pink, it’s the Hello Kitty Shinkansen Bullet Train! Found exclusively in western Japan, this pleasure ride encompasses 200 MPH of cuteness that children and fans are sure to love.

But there is a brief window of opportunity in which to ride this train and there isn’t service every day.

Knowing how to ride the Hello Kitty Shinkansen will allow you to board quickly, understand when you can ride and when it will end. If you’re visiting Japan any time soon, this is a must-see experience. Osaka and Fukuoka are the two end stops with stations at places like Yamaguchi, Kobe, and Hiroshima.

Quick Overview

  • Learn about the Train and the Special Cars
  • Check the Train Schedule to See When It Runs and at What times
  • Purchase a Ticket or Pass
  • Enjoy Your Trip!

About the Bullet Train

In June 2018, the JR West company, also called the Japan Railway West, started the Hello Kitty Bullet Train on the Sanyo Shinkansen line.

While it is a limited service, it’s not clear when it will end because the Hello Kitty Train has stayed for a few years now and the schedule always seems to update.

The train abounds with pink and red ribbons and various Hello Kitty depictions. There are two carriages within the train that let travelers interact with Hello Kitty along with announcement sounds from the theme.

Two Special Cars

The first two carriages on the train are a fantasyland in the world of Hello Kitty. Cars three through eight have typical seating but the décor motif is all Hello Kitty cuteness, complete with pink and purple seats.

The headrests and window shades have kitty items along with other compartments, such as toilets and washrooms.

Hello Kitty Plaza

The entire first car, called the “Hello Kitty Plaza,” has a café with themed food and beverages along with a gift shop. Because it’s just for show and display, you can’t sit here and there is no passenger seating in car one.

These themed products correspond and hail from one of the eight regions the train runs through and what they’re well known for.

There’s an orange doll for Tottori that offers a green apple while a strawberry is part of the one that represents Fukuoka. A black shell is for the Shimane Prefecture.

Kawaii Room

The second carriage contains the ultimate in cuteness with Hello Kitty and friends, titled the “Kawaii Room.” In Japanese, this translates to “cute.”

It’s actually a type of culture where people, particularly women and girls, embrace a mindset, style, and attitude that’s only cute and nothing else. This Hello Kitty Train car is a testament to Kawaii culture.

From top to bottom the car decks out in Hello Kitty images, depictions, and colors. It’s a completely restyled 500-series Shinkansen train car with a three-by-two-seat layout.

You can get a picture taken with Kitty-chan at the photo stand. This particular character comes dressed as a train conductor and you can share it on social media or with family back home.

Destination And Boarding

The Hello Kitty Train is a Kodama service in the Fukuoka Prefecture between Osaka and Hakata. There is no first-class seating available, it’s all the same standard seating throughout the seating cars. 

Tickets And Passes

You can either purchase a regular ticket, regional pass, or have a JR Pass to board the train. Riding on the Hello Kitty Bullet Train is free when you have a JR Pass.

The convenience is in the inherent complimentary seat reservations. You can only use regional passes for the indicated area on the pass.

For example, the JR Kansai-Hiroshima Pass is only good until Hiroshima. Then you’ll have to buy another pass for the rest of the ride or exit the train.

However, the Sanyo-San’in Northern Kyushu Pass covers the entire distance of the trip.

Reservations Are Advisable

Ergo, if you do plan to take this train it’s highly advisable to make seating reservations. Since this pink party of Hello Kitty went into service, people are always riding on it.

The best way to ensure a beautiful view of Japan’s scenic west is to reserve a seat beforehand.

Extra Gifts And Surprises

If you go to the Okayama Station, there’s a Hello Kitty ekiben for travelers. This is box-shaped like a train that passengers can receive just for riding and visiting the station. You just show your ticket or pass.

A Hello Kitty Café awaits at Hakata. Here you can get a latte or curry designed with this classic cartoon character.

Kitty-chan comes molded in rice and you can eat every part, even the bow, and train-attendant hat. For dessert, you can order a Hello Kitty-themed special rice pudding or Cream Daifuku Set.

Two Services Daily

There are two services on each day and they do run on most days, but this varies every month. So, you should always check the schedule before planning to take the trip.

The Kodama 849 and 730 runs from Hakata to Shin-Osaka and the Kodama 851 and 741 goes from Shin-Osaka to Hakata.

Schedule And Time Tables

Because this is a limited train service relegated to the Fukuoka Prefecture, there are only a handful of stops that include a few other prefectures. These are Shimane, Tottori, Osaka, Hyogo, Okayama, Hiroshima, Yamaguchi, and Fukuoka.

The following is a timetable of the departures and arrivals for the train at each station. However, you should always check with the official schedule since they will have an updated one with the most recent train numbers, travel times, and availability.

Hello Kitty Shinkansen Via Japan Rail Pass

StationHakata to OsakaOsaka to Hakata
Hakata6:3216:11 (arrival)
Kokura6:5115:55
Shimonoseki7:0315:45
Asa7:2015:32
Yamaguchi7:3015:15
Tokuyama7:4414:59
Iwakuni8:0214:37
Hiroshima8:1714:19
Higash-Hiroshima8:3214:01
Mihara8:4713:40
Onomichi9:0013:24
Fukuyama9:1013:24
Kurashiki9:3013:01
Okayama9:5312:41
Aioi10:1912:24
Himeji10:2812:15
Nishi-Akashi10:4912:03
Kobe10:5811:46
Osaka11:12 (Arrival)11:32

Hello Kitty Virtual Tour

MT Lee
My fascination with Japan began several years back at a roadside bonsai stand while on vacation. I became more interested in the where and why's more than the trees themselves. My love of Bonsai led me to further research my interest in the gardens where they originated from and the places and people that surrounded those little trees. My curiosity was well rewarded upon visiting Saitama where the National Bonsai Museum was located and Omiya Village the bonsai mecca for lovers of this ancient art form. Exploring many towns and villages and even making my way to Japan's furthest southern prefecture of Okinawa. I hope to share my love of this wonderful and exotic place with all those who want to know more about Japan.