A visit to Shikoku, Japan’s fourth largest island, is not complete without hopping on the Anpanman train that fulfils all childhood’s fantasies. Anpanman, the iconic superhero whose head is made of bean-filled bread, can be spotted everywhere in Japan from baby’s products to children’s toys to food items and even transportation. In Shikoku, the birthplace of Anpanman’s creator, Takashi Yanase who was born in Kochi, there are special Anpanman Japan Railway (JR) trains that pass through many scenic areas on Yosan, Dosan and Kotoku train lines.
Crossing the magnificent Seto-Ohashi Bridge that links Honshu to Shikoku, the Anpanman train soars over the Seto Inland Sea. The 13.1 kilometres Seto-Ohashi Bridge is the "world's longest two-tiered bridge". The upper level is catered for the Seto-Chuo expressway and JR Seto-Ohashi line. The popular Seto-Ohashi line Anpanman Torokko, which runs during vacation periods, Golden week, Saturdays, and national holidays, is usually fully booked in advance. The nostalgic wooden carriage has long benches with wood crafted Anpanman figures and large open windows that provide unobstructed views of the tracks. Anpanman music playing in the background enhances the experience of riding with Anpanman over six bridges that connect Kojima in Okayama Perfecture to Sakaide of Kagawa Prefecture and through five islands.
Like the Seto-Ohashi line Anpanman Torokko that operates during limited periods, the special Yu Yu Anpanman car is a haven for children with its playroom filled with Anpanman toys. Navigating through Takamatsu, Tokushima and Awa Ikeda on the Kotoku line, Yu Yu Anpanman car has two carriages and the popular reserved seat area is embellished with Anpanman characters.
The Anpanman trains have attractive designs to complement different train lines. Travelling through Takamatsu, Matsuyama and Uwajima, the Yosan line Anpanman trains have white-based background adorned with a wide variety of colourful themes. Vibrant rainbows covered the Anpanman trains on the Dozan line, which transverses the spectacular Iya valley and its famous Oboke and Koboke gorges on the route between Okayama and Kochi Prefectures.
After so much fun and excitement exploring the different carriages in the trains, hungry passengers can try the sumptuous Anpanman bento that comes with cute Anpanman-shaped rice. The exclusive Anpanman bento can be purchased from major train stations or pre-ordered with the purchase of the train tickets.
Do not forget to get the Anpanman train stamp rally book from the train attendants and collect the adorable Anpanman stamps when you board the Anpanman trains! The Anpanman trains running on different train lines have unique stamp designs. Remember to also look for Anpanman stamp booths at each train station and collect stamp labelled with the respective train station’s name.
More information about the Anpanman trains like routes, timetables and reservations is available in the JR Japanese website (in Japanese). Japan Railways organises many Anpanman events and promotions throughout the year, check out their website for more information.
Shikoku is definitely a dream destination for all Anpanman fans with so many amazing Anpanman trains passing through the lush green fields and mountainous terrains that are surrounded by the vast ocean. For all train lovers, do not miss the opportunity to embark on the Anpanman train journey! Ride the Anpanman trains and enjoy a truly Japanese cultural experience! Let’s go!