Japan’s famous shinkansen bullet train is known around the world for its speed, efficiency and safety. Currently, people in Tokyo can take a bullet train all the way to Fukuoka on Kyushu island or to Aomori, at the northern tip of Honshu. But now the high-speed train network is taking it to the next level by extending its reach to Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido, letting consumers go from Tokyo Station to Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station in about four hours.
As Japan gets ready for the start of the new Hokkaido Shinkansen on March 26, many companies are launching marketing tie-ups — with some odd results. Here are a few of the campaigns on the fast track.
Tomix train set
New train toys modeled after the Series H5 Hayabusa? No brainer.
北海道新幹線開業記念＆職場の運転会でのお子様ウケを考慮し、TOMIXのH5系を買ってもうた〜♪(´ε｀ ) pic.twitter.com/ox8e6vsRKC
— みやみや＠プログレッシヴ華道 (@zeon_miyamiya) February 28, 2016
Tomix’s set comes with all 10 cars, and the interior can even be lit up. If you’d like to buy it outside of Japan, there are sets being sold on eBay.
One of the best parts about riding bullet trains in Japan is being able to eat food on public transportation without judgment — huzzah! Ekiben, or train lunch boxes, are a given. Like a beer with that? No problem.
— ザ・プレミアム・モルツ (@PremiumMalts_jp) February 24, 2016
Let the conductor be the designated driver as you can pop a can or three of Suntory’s beer — same taste, new design. If beer is not your thing, Co-op Gurana is repackaging its soda with the Hayabusa train as well.
Fast food chain Lotteria is famous for creating food that could kill you, but this time they’re putting it inside a cute Hayabusa box.
— ﾌｼﾞ ﾏｻ (@MATAL_masa) March 23, 2016
A Shinjuku branch is selling meals wrapped up in the Hokkaido Shinkansen train that comes with a rib sandwich, fries and a drink. The meal won’t cost as much as a train ticket though as it’s only ¥1,000 and is available until May 31.
Calbee potato chips
Snack king Calbee is also taking a bite out of the shinkansen commotion with a line of bullet Hokkaido-inspired chips.
出発、進行～！＼つながる！ひろがる！北海道新幹線／開業記念の３商品発売！『ポテトチップス オニオンソルト味』『ポテトチップス のりと明太子味』『かっぱえびせん ガーリックマヨ味』 ※北海道・東北・関東・甲信越にて期間限定販売中。 pic.twitter.com/CgYyZLos3M
— Calbee（カルビー）公式 (@Calbee_JP) March 7, 2016
Calbee has three new flavors for potato chip fans — onion and salt, seaweed and mentaiko, and garlic and mayonnaise. The company has never shied away from strange new flavors, including its tuna-corn-curry flavor. If you can’t stop eating these addictive chips, you can always keep the bag shut with a Hayabusa stapler.
Tommy Lee Jones
And what’s good marketing campaign without a celebrity endorsement? Suntory is using one of its favorite actors, Tommy Lee Jones, once again for its shinkansen commercials.
The spots feature Jones in the cold yet beautiful tundra of Hokkaido as the iconic Hayabusa speeds by. Jones doesn’t mind the weather because he’s drinking warm Suntory coffee, of course.
It may take four hours to get to Hakodate, but it will only take a few minutes to warm up Acecook’s newest ramen.
— 庶民のバザール (@shominbazal) March 7, 2016
The two instant noodles come in salt or soy flavors. The packaging also features the official Hokkaido Shinkansen mascot, Dokodemo Yuki-chan (Anywhere Snow-chan).
The only thing faster than the Hokkaido Shinkansen is the food at McDonald’s. The venerable chain is releasing a line of sweets with nods to Hokkaido’s farming and dairy culture.
— マクドナルド (@McDonaldsJapan) March 22, 2016
For a limited time, customers can buy its Hokkaido Milk Pie, a fluffy croissant filled with gooey goodness. It’ll also be packaged in a signature purple color to match the stripes on the Hayabusa train.
Sapporo Snow Festival
And bringing this marketing blitz back to where Hokkaido, this year’s Sapporo Snow Festival was decked out in ads featuring the new shinkansen line. There was even a huge snow sculpture shaped like a Hayabusa train that was lit up at night.
— Motomachi Hifuka (@motomachihifuka) February 11, 2016
As the Hokkaido Shinkansen will be extended from Shin-Hakodate to Sapporo Station in 2030, the Sapporo Snow Festival — and Hokkaido itself — is bound to get a jump in tourists as more and more people head north.