Toy Train, Strawberry Train
When someone comes up with a really original idea, it can really make you realize how unadventurous we often are. Eiji Mitooka is a well-known designer in Japan who has done a lot of work on the country's trains. In the past he has decorated trains with Japanese calligraphy, but this is something altogether more Willy Wonka. This is a picture of his Omoden (Toy Train) which runs on the Kishigawa Line. It's decorated like a funky toyshop, and kids can really play in it.
Amazingly the train is run on a suburban line, which apparently runs out to the Japanese equivalent of the DMV. It's a short line, about 8 miles in length – and how they get the kdis off at the last stop is anyone's guess.
Mitooka is also responsible for the Ichigo EC (Strawberry Train, below), and both are wonderful flights of fancy, created to turn a train journey from dull to magical for everyone. Both contain toys, bouncy cribs and cartoons screened on TVs, and they're squeaky clean. Best of all, you don't have to pay over the odds to play on them – or make private bookings. This is just regular travel for regular train travelers. Why can't all travel be like this? RM