Thursday, August 11, 2016

Shikoku Autumn 2014 四国秋季之旅 - Yu Yu Anpanman Car ゆうゆうアンパンマ ンカー

Travelled on 16.11.2014 (Sun)

Anpanman (アンパンマ ン) is almost analogous to Shikoku. This is because Takashi Yanase (柳瀬 嵩), the artist who created this popular bread hero anime, spent his childhood in Kami (香美郡), a district in Kochi Prefecture. In Shikoku, you can find Anpanman very easily - numerous merchandises featuring this adorable character and his friends; bakeries selling Anpanman bread; in Kami district, you can take an Anpanman themed bus to visit Anpanman Museum; even Anpanman themed trains operate on this island! Goes to show how well loved he is by locals - both adults and children! 

It is always a challenge to slot in special themed train rides into any itinerary especially when these trains only operate on specific dates. Fortunately, I was able to coincide the train journey from Takamatsu to Tokushima with Yu Yu Anpanman car timing on a Sunday, as this train normally operates on weekends and public holidays. In fact, Yu Yu Anpanman car is not a train by itself. Instead it is a single train carriage connected to two other limited express trains: 
- Limited Express Uzushio, which commutes from Takamatsu to Tokushima via Takamatsu line.
- Limited Express Tsurugisan, which commutes between Tokushima and Awa Ikeda via Tokushima line.
For my trip, I boarded Limited Express Uzushio at Takamatsu Station at 1011 hrs and alighted at Tokushima Station at 1125 hrs. Fares are covered by All Shikoku Pass without additional fare top up. Do visit JR Shikoku website to confirm the train operating schedule.



Was delighted to see this blue train carriage, beautifully wrapped with pictures of Anpanman and his friends, waiting for the arrival of its passengers at Takamatsu JR Station. Yu Yu Anpanman car is divided into two sections; 20 reserved seats in one section and the other one is a children playground. 

Bottom left: Hand drawn Anpanman on the wall by Takashi Yanase; Bottom right: Parents can secure their strollers here. 
Family oriented train. Most passengers on board this train were families with small kids. Apart from the playground, there were other features catered to their needs such as designating a baby room and allocating a small area at the back of the car for strollers to be placed and secured. The playground is a heaven for kids and this was the first place most families headed for as soon as they boarded the train. A very child friendly design: the floor of the play area were laid with cushion mats such that it is more gentle to touch or any slips and falls and there are some dividers within the play area with small tunnels for kids to crawl through. After kids have played enough to return to their seats, parents can also retrieved books placed on a stand at the back of the cabin to read to their kids. 

Right: Kids' heaven!
He is eveywhere! All the seats in this car have comfortable green colored cushions with the lovable Anpanman, striking different poses, on them. You can spot the characters almost every corner of the train carriage - Anpanman flying above your head on the ceiling, checked floor carpet with their adorable faces and Anpanman and his friends to surprise you as you pull down the table in front of your seat. There is even a picture of Anpanman, Baikinman and Dokin-chan hand drawn on the wall at the back of the cabin by Takashi Yanase in Oct 2002, when this themed car was first introduced. Throughout this joyful train ride, the atmosphere here is brightened up by both the infectious laughter of kids and the contented smiles on the faces of all parents.  

Ekiben. Bought two Anpanman bento meals from Takamatsu JR Station to complete the full Anpanman experience on board this themed train. These bento boxes or "ekiben" are specially designed for kids, therefore the servings are much lesser than the conventional ones. Based on what I read from JR Shikoku website, these Anpanman ekiben are only on sale at ekiben sale counters located in Takamatsu and Kochi stations.

- Anpanman bento (アンパンマン弁当), priced at 1,140 yen.
Comes with a small plastic Anpanman bottle (but not filled with any drinks), tomato sauce rice shaped and decorated to Anpanman's face, yakisoba, chicken kaarage, pork sausage, edamame and jelly.

- Genki 100 bai! (げんき100ばい!), priced at 1,240 yen.
Translates as "full of energy", the lid of the round container is Anpanman's face with his signature red cheeks and nose. This is slightly more expensive than Anpanman bento because it uses a greater variety of ingredients. The center, round compartment was stuffed with chicken rice and decorated with black bean (eyes), carrot (nose), sausage (cheeks) and sauces (eyebrows and mouth) to depict Anpanman's face. The circumferential compartments were filled with chicken nugget, steamed pumpkin and sweet potato slices, plain omelette, siew mai, mini beef patty. mini tomato and jelly. A too-cute-to-be-eaten ekiben which will make any kid sit down quietly to enjoy his/her exclusive meal.


Other Anpanman themed trains:

Took Limited Express Nanpu from Awa Ikeda to Kochi. Bottom left: Stone figurine of Anpanman at Gomen Station.
(1) Anpanman trains on Dosan line. Operate everyday.
- Limted Express Nanpu, which commutes between Okayama, Kochi and Nakamura.
- Limited Express Ashizuri, which commute between Kochi, Nakamura and Sukumo. 
Managed to hop onto an Anpanman train while we were travelling from Awa Ikeda to Kochi. Only a portion of the seats in the 1st cabin has red Anpanman seat covers and the walls and curtains are decorated with Anpanman. Normal seats in the rest of the train carriages with Anpanamn and his friends appearing only on the ceilings.

Spotted Baikinman train at Matsuyama Station.
(2) Trains featuring other characters such as Dokin-chan (ドキンちゃん), Baikinman (ばいきんまん), Creampanda (クリームパンダ) and Melonpanna (メロンパンナ). Operate everyday.
- Limited Express Shiokaze, which commutes between Okayama. Matsuyama and Uwajima.
- Limited Express Ishizuchi, which commutes between Takamatsu, Matsuyama and Uwajima.
- Limited Express Uwakai, which commutes between Matsuyama and Uwajima. 

(3) Anpanman Torokko train, usually in operation on weekends and public holidays.
- Route 1: commutes between Okayama and Kotohira
- Route 2: commutes between Okayama and Takamatsu


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