Combining two quintessentially Japanese things into one easy jaunt, the Hello Kitty bullet train is a gloriously pink way to get from A to B. When the bullet train with the fetching pink paint job and Hello Kitty decals rolls into the station, there is no mistaking it for any other train on the network. Started as a collaboration between Hello Kitty creators Sanrio and JR West in 2018, the Hello Kitty Shinkansen is a single train set that plies the Hakata (Fukuoka) to Shin-Osaka route once each day in both directions. Hello Kitty Shinkansen basic info Route: Osaka to Fukuoka, and vice versa (total of 18 stops across 6 prefectures) Schedule: Once a day in each direction (6:32\u00a0am from Shin-Osaka Station, 11:32 am from Hakata Station) Duration: A one-way trip between Shin-Osaka to Hakata is 4.5\u00a0hours. Tickets: Tickets can be bought on the day or in advance. The Hello Kitty Shinkansen is covered under several passes, including the Japan Rail Pass. Exploring the train: shops, seats and serious kawaii vibes Although there are decals and small touches throughout all eight carriages, most of the action happens in carriages one and two (at the front leaving Shin-Osaka or at the rear if leaving Hakata). Carriage 1 is given over to a Sanrio shop called Hello! Plaza with three uniformed attendants and all manner of Hello Kitty merchandise\u2014including limited-edition station master Kitty-chan. If you visit the shop in the first carriage, you'll get a souvenir "short story" booklet that you can sell on eBay for at least a dollar. Aside from the plush toys, there are lots of snacks and smaller items for the kids. If you're in Tokyo and can't make it, fear not\u2014there's a whole Sanrio theme park with Hello Kitty and all her friends. If you want the experience for the whole trip, you'll have to board the Kawaii Room, located in Carriage 2\u2014the only passenger carriage that is fully decked out with Kitty-themed flooring, seats and window shades. At the back of the carriage is an area for taking those all important commemorative photos. When and where to catch the Hello Kitty Shinkansen The Hello Kitty Shinkansen is a regular Kodama service that runs from Hakata (Fukuoka) to Shin-Osaka departing at 6:32\u00a0am and arriving at 11:12\u00a0am. The return trip departs from Shin-Osaka at the slightly more friendly hour of 11:32\u00a0am and arrives in Hakata at 4:11\u00a0pm. The earlier train will no doubt be quieter, so keep this in mind if you're traveling at a busy time and really want a pink seat. The eight-car Kodama service stops at all stations and is slower than the 16-car Nozomi or Hikari services that whiz up and down between Tokyo and Hakata. Four-and-a-half hours for the journey between Shin-Osaka and Hakata is more than double the time of the faster services. Every two to three weeks or so, the Hello Kitty Shinkansen takes a hiatus of one to three days. In the September to November 2021 period, those days are: September 20th to 22nd, October 14th and 15th, November 4th, 5th, 9th, 25th and 26th. Hello Kitty Shinkansen stations The full station list for the Hello Kitty Shinkansen is as follows: Fukuoka Prefecture: Hakata, Kokura Yamaguchi Prefecture: Shin-Shimonoseki, Asa, Shin-Yamaguchi, Tokuyama, Shin-Iwakuni Hiroshima Prefecture: Hiroshima, Higashi-Hiroshima, Mihara, Shin-Onomichi, Fukuyama Okayama Prefecture: Shin-Kurashiki, Okayama Hyogo Prefecture: Aioi, Himeji, Nishi-Akashi, Shin-Kobe Osaka Prefecture: Shin-Osaka While the full journey takes over 4\u00a0hours, you'll no doubt spot some familiar names on there that could serve as hopping-off or starting points, and we have some suggestions below. Timetable Departure times are current as of August 24th, 2021. Hakata to Shin-Osaka Station Departs Hakata 6:32 Kokura 6:51 Shin-Shimonoseki 7:03 Asa 7:20 Shin-Yamaguchi 7:30 Tokuyama 7:44 Shin-Iwakuni 8:02 Hiroshima 8:17 Higashihiroshima 8:32 Mihara 8:47 Shin-Onomichi 9:00 Fukuyama 9:10 Shin-Kurashiki 9:30 Okayama 9:53 Aioi 10:19 Himeji 10:28 Nishi-Akashi 10:49 Shin-Kobe 10:58 Shin-Osaka 11:12 Shin-Osaka to Hakata Station Departs Shin-Osaka 11:32 Shin-Kobe 11:46 Nishi-Akashi 12:03 Himeji 12:15 Aioi 12:24 Okayama 12:41 Shin-Kurashiki 13:01 Fukuyama 13:16 Shin-Onomichi 13:24 Mihara 13:40 Higashihiroshima 14:01 Hiroshima 14:19 Shin-Iwakuni 14:37 Tokuyama 14:59 Shin-Yamaguchi 15:15 Asa 15:32 Shin-Shimonoseki 15:45 Kokura 15:55 Hakata 16:11 Day trip ideas: Seafood, castles and famous islands If you want to ride the train but aren't sure where to go, there are a surprising amount of great places to visit en route. The most popular place is obviously Hiroshima\u2014home to poignant museums, local soul food and the beautiful floating torii gate of Miyajima. For something a little more unusual, Shimonoseki is the fugu (pufferfish) capital of Japan\u2014plus it's filled with fascinating historical spots. Meanwhile, Iwakuni is known for its arched bridge and has a snake museum, not to mention an unusual local version of sushi. Himeji and its castle is another great place to explore (and why not explore more of Hyogo while you're at it?), while those looking for a very short trip can hop over to Shin-Kobe from Osaka and enjoy the delicacies of Chinatown as well as the natural beauty of the area. Getting on board: Reservations, tickets and passes The most important thing for Kitty fans is that all the seats in Carriage 2 are jiyuseki, meaning unreserved. That means you can turn up on the day and queue to get a spot. You can reserve seats for other sections of the train, so you can either: a) risk it and go unreserved (saving a couple of hundred yen) or b) reserve seats elsewhere in the train and explore the train once you've boarded (possibly a good idea if you are on the train for a while). Regular tickets and prices When it comes to tickets, you can purchase them in advance or on the day. A full trip between Osaka and Fukuoka takes just over 4.5\u00a0hours and costs for a reserved seat and for an unreserved seat. If that's a bit high (and you don't have a rail pass) then there are some shorter options. Here are some examples of the ticket prices for the different journeys with the unreserved seat price: Leaving from Fukuoka Hakata to Shin-Shimonoseki | 27 minutes | Hakata to Shin-Iwakuni | 85 minutes | Hakata to Hiroshima | 104 minutes | Hakata to Himeji | 4 hours | Leaving from Osaka Shin-Osaka to Shin-Kobe | 13 minutes | Shin-Osaka to Himeji | 42 minutes | Shin-Osaka to Hiroshima | 2.5 hours | Shin-Osaka to Shin-Shimonoseki | 4 hours | The different rail passes All JR West Passes (which include the Shinkansen) and the overall JR Pass are valid for travel on the Hello Kitty Shinkansen. Here's a full list of your pass options: Kansai Wide Area Pass (unreserved seating) Kansai\u2013Hiroshima Area Pass (unreserved seating) Hiroshima\u2013Yamaguchi Area Pass (unreserved seating) Okayama\u2013Hiroshima\u2013Yamaguchi Pass (unreserved seating) Setouchi Area Pass (unreserved seating) Kansai\u2013Hokuriku Area Pass (unreserved seating) This post was updated on April 14, 2020 by Lily Crossley-Baxter, and on August 24th, 2021 by Greg Lane.