The Pokémon with You Train in Tohoku Region

Pokémon With You Train

Pikachu, I choose you!

If those words are still ringing in your ears from your favorite childhood anime cartoon, JR East’s POKÉMON with YOU train may be the perfect day trip during your next visit to Japan.

One of Japan’s “Joyful Trains”, imaginative trains that are “pushing the limits on train design to create a new way to travel,” the Pokémon with You train is an immersive experience. You’re certain to agree that “riding the train is no longer just about the destination but about how you get there.” You’ll feel just like Ash Ketchum as you travel through Japan’s beautiful countryside with Pikachu at your side.

In July of 2017, a new and updated Pokémon with You train replaced the original. This new train is covered inside and out with everyone’s favorite electric rodent – Pikachu himself! Not your ordinary train, the Pokémon with You train is not designed for commuters – it was created primarily with children in mind.

Pikachu themed train

The Pokémon train and Tohoku Region story

The JR Pokémon train is about more than nostalgia or having a good time, however. It is also a philanthropic ideal. The Pokémon train was devised in 2012, after the Tohoku region had been devastated by an earthquake and tsunami in March of 2011.

“The aim was to bring a smile back to the faces of the children of these hard-hit areas… as well as attract tourists back to the region”. So far, the train has succeeded in this mission, carrying over 40,000 smiling passengers between 2012 and 2017.

How to get to the Pokémon train from Tokyo

You can use your Japan Rail Pass to travel from Tokyo to Ichinoseki, where you can board the Pokémon train. Please note that tickets for the Pokémon train are not sold outside of Japan. Tickets go on sale one month prior to the travel date, and require an additional charge when using the JR Pass. Book early, as reservations for this unique train tend to fill up quickly.

From Tokyo Station, take the Tohoku Shinkansen to Ichinoseki Station. The trip takes approximately two and a half hours.

Pokémon train features

The Pokémon with You train is color-coordinated to match yellow Pikachu and his brown stripes, inside and out. On the train’s exterior, you’ll be greeted by a passel of excited pikachus.

Inside, you can choose from one of two fun Pikachu-themed cars. Parents can relax in the Communication Seat Car, with its thunderbolt carpet and Pika-patterned curtains and seatbacks. Each seat is even decorated with its very own Poké ball, each one a different variety. Numerous Pikachus hide along the walls. Views from the train’s large windows include mountainous terrain and lush farming fields.

Pokémon With You communication seat car
Pokémon With You communication seat car – Image courtesy of JR East

Small children – and those young at heart – can explore to their heart’s content in the Playroom Car. The yellow flooring is littered with Pika footprints, and Pikachu is everywhere! A large Pikachu reclines in the center of the car, and smaller life-sized counterparts can be found on the sofas, allowing you to sit with your favorite Pokémon.

There is also a mini-driver’s seat at the the front of the car, so children can experience “driving” the Pokémon train! Staff are on-hand to keep the children entertained and to snap priceless pictures of this once-upon-a-childhood experience.

Pokémon With You Playroom car
Pokémon With You Playroom car – Image courtesy of JR East

Train routes

The Pokémon with You train runs of the JR Ofunato Line between Ichinoseki and Kesennuma, with stops at:

  • Ichinoseki
  • Rikuchu-Matsukawa
  • Geibikei
  • Surisawa
  • Semmaya
  • Orikabe
  • Kasennuna

The one-way trip lasts about two hours. Once you reach your destination, you can help the recovering Tohoku region when you buy local products, including delicious fresh seafood from this small port town.

Pókemon With You Route Map
Pókemon With You Route Map – Image courtesy of JR East

Train schedule

Depending on the time of your visit, the Pokémon with You train may run daily or on weekends only. Check out the following timetable for more information, and plan your trip today.

Ichinoseki to Kasennuma Kasennuma to Ichinoseki
Departure sation Departure time Departure station Departure time
Ishinoseki 11:01 Kesennuma 14:37
Rikuchū-Matsukawa 11:40 Orikabe 14:57
Geibikei 11:48 Semmaya 15:20
Surisawa 12:04 Surisawa 15:43
Semmaya 12:21 Geibikei 15:57
Orikabe 12:37 Rikuchū-Matsukawa 16:03
Kesennuma (terminus) 12:51 (arrival) Ishinoseki (terminus) 16:32 (arrival)

Here are the Pokémon With You operating dates for 2020:

Pokemon train operating days 2020
Days marked with green circles indicate the operational days.

Where will your Pokémon journey take you? Whether you’re just beginning or you’re already a Pokémon master, the Pokémon with You train experience is a great place to start. Get your train tickets, because you’ve gotta catch ‘em all!

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