The Doraemon Tram, a cute train wrapped in the livery of the famous cartoon cat's familiar colors running between Takaoka and Imizu on the Manyo Line in Toyama Prefecture, has received a three-year extension.
The train is painted in Doraemon light blue and the doors are designed to resemble the cat's "Anywhere Door," a feature in the manga and anime where the heroic cat can teleport to just about anywhere.
Also, the inside is decorated with the "Hopter," which enables Doraemon to fly, and also many other familiar sights from the cartoon.
Takaoka city announced Aug. 3 that the train, scheduled to operate until the end of August, will run for an additional three years.
Fujiko F. Fujio Pro, the Tokyo-based production company dealing with the Doraemon franchise, has agreed to the extension for a train that has so far carried more than 410,000 people.
The tentatively named Fujiko F. Fujio Furusato Gallery is scheduled to open in Takaoka in December, so the city wants to help improve access between facilities related to Doraemon.
The train began operating under a one-year contract with Fujiko Pro in September 2012, which was then extended by two years to the end of August 2015. During that time, 93,264 people rode the train in the fiscal year beginning April 1, 2012. The city then added related events such as photo-taking sessions with the tram as well as postcard sales, and ridership was at 142,479 people in fiscal 2013 and 129,340 people in fiscal 2014. The train has remained popular in fiscal 2015, with 45,526 riders logged up until July 15.
With the Doraemon Tram due to end in August, the city came up with the plan to continue making efficient use of the train by providing transport between the Furusato Gallery that the municipal museum will open and other facilities with related objet d'art such as those situated around Takaoka Station.
Due to the train's extended life, the city is getting help from the likes of Fujiko Pro and others to draw up plans for tours of sites associated with Doraemon, with the idea of luring visitors from across Japan.