Hello Kitty Shinkansen Kodama 849 from Shin-Osaka to Okayama Train Review
The Hello Kitty Shinkansen is one of Japan’s most famous trains among tourists, plying between Hakata and Shin-Osaka. I was indeed going from Shin-Osaka to Hakata, and the Hello Kitty Shinkansen was serving the exact route that I needed to take. However, the Hello Kitty Shinkansen runs on the Kodama service, serving all stations along the way, and I wasn’t going to waste my time on a stopping Shinkansen service. With my JR Sanyo-San’in Northern Kyushu Area Pass, I was also allowed to head down to Takamatsu on Shikoku Island, so I decided to also deviate to Takamatsu while on the way to Hakata. For everything to fall into place perfectly, I used the Hello Kitty Shinkansen Kodama 849 from Shin-Osaka to Okayama.
Heading into Shin-Osaka Station.
Heading through the Shinkansen fare gates.
My Hello Kitty Shinkansen Kodama 849 will be departing from Platform 20.
A screen at the foot of the escalator leading up to Platform 20 displays the train service information for my Hello Kitty Shinkansen Kodama 849. I will only be using the sector to Okayama.
Hello Kitty Shinkansen
My Hello Kitty Shinkansen Kodama 849 was already at the platform, however, not ready for boarding yet.
5 out of 8 cars are not reserved, offering plenty of seats for those without a reserved seat, or opting to travel at a cheaper fare if without a rail pass.
Do note that Car 1 and a portion of Car 2 has no seats, unique to the Hello Kitty Shinkansen. It is where most passengers would want to spend their train ride anyway.
My booked reserved seat is at Car 5.
The Hello Kitty Shinkansen was still being cleaned, with a Hello Kitty-shaped sign hung on the open train doors.
A platform screen door is also opened to reveal the logo of the Hello Kitty Shinkansen for photo-taking.
The striking-pink Hello Kitty Shinkansen train at Platform 20.
Instead of going to Car 5 first, I decided to board the Hello Kitty Shinkansen at Car 1 directly. A couple of passengers ahead also had the same idea.
Boarding commenced at 11.27am, 5 minutes before scheduled departure.
Hello Kitty motifs adorn the exterior and interior of the vestibules.
The train layout of the Hello Kitty Shinkansen
Hello Kitty Shinkansen Car 1 Hello! Plaza
Car 1 features the Hello! Plaza special display space, consisting of an activity area and sales area. Souvenir, drinks, and light snacks are available for purchase.
With the initial crowd, I did not spend much time here yet. I will revisit the Car 1 Hello! Plaza a few more times during my journey, and better pictures will be below once the journey has begun.
Many photo opportunities are available on board the Car 1 Hello! Plaza.
The timetable of the Hello Kitty Shinkansen is also displayed in Car 1 Hello! Plaza.
Hello Kitty Shinkansen Car 2 Kawaii! Room
Car 2 Kawaii! Room has a photo area with Hello Kitty in JR West uniform.
The background of the photo area has Hello Kitty introducing Osaka prefecture, Nara prefecture, Hyogo prefecture, Tottori prefecture, Shimane prefecture, Okayama prefecture, Hiroshima prefecture, Yamaguchi prefecture, and Fukuoka prefecture.
More-than-necessary luggage racks are available on board Car 2 Kawaii! Room. This was surprisingly unused.
I would be soon surprised by the ridership patterns on the Hello Kitty Shinkansen Kodama 849.
Hello Kitty Shinkansen Non-Reserved Seats
The remainder of Car 2 Kawaii! Room features non-reserved seats in a 2+3 configuration. Non-reserved seats are available in Cars 2, 3, 7, and 8.
The Hello Kitty Shinkansen branding is on all head covers of the non-reserved seats in Car 2 Kawaii! Room.
The legroom available on board the non-reserved seats.
A tray table is available on the seat back in front. There is also a train set map behind the tray table.
Non-reserved seats in Cars 3, 7, and 8 do not bear the pinkness and decorations of Car 2.
Smoking rooms are available in Cars 3 and 7.
Hello Kitty Shinkansen Reserved Seats
Reserved seats are available in Cars 4, 5, and 6. If eligible or have a bit of spare cash, it is better to get a reserved seat on the Hello Kitty Shinkansen as they are in a 2+2 configuration offering a bigger seat with more width space.
The legroom available on board the Hello Kitty Shinkansen reserved seat.
A tray table is available on the seat back in front of me. There is also a train set map behind the tray table.
Details on the Hello Kitty Shinkansen are available to scan on the QR code pasted on the tray table.
My JR Sanyo-San’in Northern Kyushu Area Pass and reserved seat ticket for the Hello Kitty Shinkansen Kodama 849.
A drinks holder is located on the armrest which is quite a clever design for convenience and space-saving.
My reserved seat car was surprisingly quite empty, and I will soon find out why.
Reserved seats in Car 6 are former Green Car seats but with the headrest and footrest removed.
Do note that there is no Green Car service offered on the Hello Kitty Shinkansen, and most Kodama trains do not have Green Cars.
Crossing over the Kanzaki River.
While the seats look normal, the bulkhead of the train car still bears Hello Kitty motifs.
Hello Kitty Shinkansen prefecture posters line the frames instead of advertisements.
The train consist information is also displayed here.
Ample space for luggage and bicycle storage is also available. These were not used actively.
Interestingly, a payphone room is still available on board the Hello Kitty Shinkansen.
Alas, the payphone service is out of use, but the phone remains along with a Hello Kitty character for photo opportunities.
A male standing toilet is available.
A western-style toilet is also available on board.
A separate wash basin and mirror area is also available, with curtains to close behind for privacy.
Making a brief stop at Shin-Kobe Station. Many tourists alighted here, to my surprise. That means that most tourists were only on board for 1 stop just for the experience.
Making a longer stop at Nishi-Akashi Station for a Nozomi train to overtake. The stopping function of the Kodama train is to feed passengers from smaller stations to transfer to faster trains at bigger stations.
With the Hello Kitty Shinkansen quite empty now, it was a good time to take photos.
Hello Kitty Shinkansen Car 2 Kawaii! Room Revisit
The photo-taking area with Hello Kitty at
Hello Kitty Shinkansen Car 1 Hello! Plaza Revisit
Heading back to Car 1 Hello! Plaza.
The route map of the Hello Kitty Shinkansen is displayed.
The interior of Car 1 Hello! Plaza with staff on hand on board.
A wide variety of souvenirs are available on board the Hello Kitty Shinkansen for sale at Car 1 Hello! Plaza.
Souvenir Hello Kitty Shinkansen and Hello Kitty Haruka eco bags are available.
Many exclusive Hello Kitty Shinkansen are available including Hello Kitty JR West plushies, Plarail Hello Kitty Shinkansen, Hello Kitty Shinkansen Choro-Q.
Fun fact: The first themed Shinkansen, using this same 500-7000 Series Shinkansen Set V2, was the Plarail Shinkansen. This was followed by the Shinkalion 500 TYPE EVA, and then the current Hello Kitty Shinkansen.
Souvenir snacks are also available.
A seated counter area facing out to the windows is also available on board Car 1 Hello! Plaza.
Power sockets are available by the table of the counter seats.
Hello Kitty plushies and a date board is available on the counter for souvenir photos to be taken.
A photo wall is also available at the end of the train car before the driving cab.
A theatre is also available with Hello Kitty and JR West video clips screened.
Looking back at the Hello! Plaza from the other end.
A rare sight now, cold drinks are available for purchase on board the Hello Kitty Shinkansen.
Making a brief stop at Aioi Station.
Crossing the Asahi River on approach to Okayama Station.
Passing by JR Okayama Station 1NK Building.
My Hello Kitty Shinkansen Kodama 849 arrived at Okayama Station on time at 12.42pm.
Disembarking from the Hello Kitty Shinkansen.
Okayama is a busy transfer station for the Hello Kitty Shinkansen Kodama 849 with many passengers disembarking and boarding.
The Hello Kitty Shinkansen Kodama 849 will continue on to Hakata, stopping at every station along the way.
It was a quick stop at Okayama, and the Hello Kitty Shinkansen was on her way.
Heading down the escalator from the platform.
The Shinkansen concourse at Okayama Station.
There is a direct transfer gate between the Shinkansen concourse and the local lines concourse.
A Hello Kitty Shinkansen display is available at the Shinkansen concourse at Okayama Station.
The Hello Kitty Shinkansen timetable for Okayama.
The 8-car HO-scale model of the Hello Kitty Shinkansen.
An Ekiben outlet is also available in the Shinkansen concourse.
A Hello Kitty Shinkansen bento is available for sale.
Here, I crossed to the local line section to continue on my journey to Takamatsu by the Rapid Marine Liner 33.
The Hello Kitty Shinkansen is certainly a novel way to travel with an internationally-recognised character in the country of origin introducing various prefectures of San’yō. It also pulls passengers to use a Kodama stopping service which otherwise many passengers would avoid using, especially for long distance travel. (Most passengers indeed did not stay for long on board the Hello Kitty Shinkansen though, which is the usage pattern of the Kodama service.)