Saturday, February 15, 2014

Pokemon Comes See Kids in the Disaster Area

Diesel railcars JR East KiHa 100 series, "Pokemon with you" train, stands at Choshi Station
 
On March 11th, 2011, a 9.0-magnitude earthquake hit the eastern part of Japan. To make matters worse, the coastal areas on the Pacific Ocean side was devastated by a giant tsunami.

The epicenter of the earthquake was located offshore of the Tohoku District, far north of Chiba Prefecture; however, Asahi City in the prefecture could not escape the disaster. This city suffered from the largest tsunami in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Its maximum height was 7.6m. A total of 13 people were killed. Today, most of the city area has been reconstructed, but the local people do not seem to have completely recovered from the shock of the disaster.

Last weekend, good news came from a railway company. JR East sent a special train, KiHa 100-1 and 100-3, "Pokemon with you", to Asahi City. "Pokemon with you" is the JR East's "reconstruction assistance train for the 3.11 earthquake". Its activity is to redevelop tourism in the disaster areas and encourage the local children there. Pokemon (Pocket Monsters) is a famous TV animation, which started in 1997. The Pokemon Shinkansen was also popular among kids in the summer of 2011.

A total of 276 kids with their parents and/or guardians in the disaster area were invited for a train journey by lot. I saw railway employees welcoming the children who were embarking the train, on platform 1 of Choshi Terminal on the Sobu Main Line.

It was a great success to operate "Pokemon with you" train in Chiba Prefecture.

 
Railway employees welcome invitees (children in the disaster area) at Choshi Station
 
More information about "Pokemon with you" train (in Japanese):
http://www.jreast.co.jp/pokemon-train/index.html