Unique Trains of Japan: Ride with Pokemon

Japanese Railways amaze with a variety of passenger trains with themed design of both the exterior and the interiors. There is even a separate concept of “Joyful Trains”. Conventionally, such rolling stock can be classified into three types: thematic, children and cruising ones.

Unique Trains of Japan

The concept of “Joyful Trains” implies that the purpose of passenger transportation is not so much the destination but the journey itself. This tradition originated in Japan back in the 1960s.

Today, the brightest are children’s trains. They are decorated with popular cartoon characters. A whole series of trains with the designe based on the Japanese cartoon character Anpanmen (“anpan” – a traditional sweet bun with beans) run by the Japanese railways. Two of these trains run on the Dosan Line on Shikoku Island. The seats, ceiling and even toilets are decorated with images of Anpanman and his friends.

Unique Trains of Japan
Anpanman train / Interior of the children’s train with Anpanman / Train menu Anpanman

The “Pokemon Is With You” train was conceived as a social initiative. It has operated since 2012 in the Tohoku region affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. To bring smiles to the kids in the region the train was decorated with images of over 100 Pokémon, including the undisputed favorite Pikachu. Inside the railcars there are many toys, play tunnels, puzzles and more. For five years, the train carried more than 40 thousand people. One of its goals was to attract tourists. By using the services and buying food from local people, they helped rebuild the region.

There are also trains with foreign characters. The Scandinavian Mumiy-trolls are popular.

There are dozens of thematic trains. Some of them periodically appear on high-speed lines: Evangelion, Sonic, Hello Kitty. Often trains are dedicated to anniversaries of cartoons or video games. For example, this lineup was launched for the 25th anniversary of Sega. Such compositions differ from others not only outside, but also inside. However, the travel time of theme trains is limited from several months to several years. Then they are reissued.

Unique Trains of Japan
Genbi Shinkansen – for contemporary art lovers / Genbi Shinkansen – playroom

The railcars of the Genba Shinkansen Gallery Train are adorned with contemporary art specially created for its interior. Each salon is unique. There is a playroom for children and a bar.

On the Fukushima Fruit Tea Café, you can enjoy drinks and desserts made from fresh local apples, pears and peaches on the way. The region in which it runs is famous throughout Japan for its gardens. The restaurant menu changes according to the season.

Unique Trains of Japan
Cherry Blossom Train / Cafe Railcar

The counter of another “Joyful train” – “Torey Tsubasa” – hydromassage baths for the feet. They can be used on the road by prior arrangement. There are also restaurants with national drinks here, as on many other cruising trains. You can book tatami seats and have a cup of sake.

Unique Trains of Japan
“Torey Tsubasa” – hydromassage baths for the feet

Railway magazine “Railway Supply”


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