Resplendent in shocking pink, a sleek 'Hello Kitty' bullet train, complete with special carriages festooned with images of the global icon from Japan, has been unveiled before it chugs into service this week.
The special shinkansen or bullet train will run for the next three months between the western cities of Osaka and Fukuoka from Saturday, the West Japan Railway firm said, hoping that one of the country's most famous exports will boost tourism.
Passengers will be in left in no doubt what train they are on, with Hello Kitty smiling down from the shades of every window and adorning every passenger seat cover.
Another car will have no passenger seats but offer regional specialities, including a selection of goods and foods, in a bid to boost the local economy and tourism.
Hello Kitty, the mouthless character, has spawned a multi-billion-dollar industry since Sanrio introduced it in 1974.
It adorns everything from pencil cases and pyjamas to double-decker buses and airliners.
Last year, Japan's foreign minister appointed Hello Kitty as a cultural ambassador to help bring the 2025 World Expo to the country.
The country is hoping that the port city of Osaka will be chosen as the host for the 2025 World Exposition.
The character, along with Pokemon's Pikachu, will be used on pamphlets and gifts to promote the city's bid as it competes against Saclay in the suburbs of Paris, the central Russian city of Yekaterinburg and the Azerbaijan capital, Baku.
'I would like for you to represent Japan and proactively (promote) the attraction of Osaka inside and outside of the country,' minister Taro Kono told the characters.
In November 2018, the host of the 2025 expo will be announced between the four contenders.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.