Tour OperatorsJR East trains show there’s more to rail than speed; ‘cuteness’ counts, too.

Toot, toot! Pokeman rides the rails in Japan

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The POKÉMON with YOU train’s playroom car.
The POKÉMON with YOU train’s playroom car.

Pokeman is hopping onboard Japan’s JR East trains to mark the 150th anniversary of the first passenger train connecting Tokyo and Yokohama.

The train line, launched on 14 October 1872, changed the Tokyo to Yokohama journey time from eight hours on foot to just 53 minutes.

More recently, train journeys have moved at bullet-like speed. The first Shinkansen bullet train launched in 1964, and in 2011 the Tohoku Shinkansen “Hayabusa” bullet train entered service – a train that can reach a speed of 320 km/h.

Not all innovations are about speed though. Arguably just as important in Japan, JR East says, are innovations in “kawaii-ness” or cuteness.

A Pokegenic campaign is being rolled out progressively at 16 JR East stations until late March 2023. Travellers are encouraged to load photos of Pokeman to social media.

And for those unable to join the Pokegenic campaign, The POKÉMON with YOU Train continues to thrill kids in the Tohoku region - the area devastated by the Tohoku Earthquake and tsunami of 2011.

Travellers can join the train from Ichinoseki, which is a Shikansen stop, and travel east to the beachside town of Kesennuma.

Onboard, travellers can either sit in the reserved seats in Car 1 and enjoy the view or run amok in Car 2 – the Playroom Car. 

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