An express train decorated with characters from the popular Detective Conan manga series made its first departure sporting its new look from a station in Tottori Prefecture, western Japan, on Sunday. 

The Super Hakuto Detective Conan Ver. train bound for Kyoto departed from Kurayoshi Station in central Tottori Prefecture, the region which is home to manga artist and creator of the Detective Conan series, Gosho Aoyama.

Both the interior and exterior of all the carriages of a Limited Express Super Hakuto train, operated by Chizu Express Co.,Ltd., together with the West Japan Railway Company (JR West), have been decorated with images of characters and artwork from the manga which follows the adventures of the genius boy detective Conan Edogawa. 

Fans of the Detective Conan series (Japanese title, Meitantei Conan), as well as train enthusiasts braved cold, damp conditions on Sunday morning to see off the new-look, renamed Super Hakuto Detective Conan Ver. train during a ceremony held on the station platform.

Among the fans, Hayato Nagata, 6, was with his parents ready to see off the train.

"I'm looking forward to it," said Hayato, who lives with his family in Kurayoshi and often comes to the station to see the Super Hakuto trains. 

"I think the announcements are cool," he said, referring to the in-train announcements which are delivered in foreign languages including English and Chinese. 

Hayato's mother Sayaka, who is from Osaka, often uses the Super Hakuto service. 

"When I was young I read a number of Detective Conan volumes but not so much now. For me, I like that I can travel smoothly to my hometown in Osaka," she said.

Despite the adverse weather, the timing of the train's departure was an auspicious one with Aoyama's Detective Conan series approaching the 30th anniversary of its serialization in Japan's Weekly Shonen Sunday magazine and 2024 also marking the 30th anniversary of the Super Hakuto train service.

2023 being the Year of the Rabbit, according to the Chinese zodiac calendar used by the Japanese, also lends an extra meaning of its own. The 'hakuto' in the train's name can be derived from a well-known myth among the Japanese, The White Rabbit of Inaba, which is set in Tottori. 'White rabbit' and 'Hakuto' can be written using the same kanji characters - 白兎. 

"Conan-kun" poses with Tottori Gov. Shinji Hirai (second from left) during the departure ceremony at Kurayoshi Station. Photo taken Dec. 3, 2023.

Eyes in the region are also on the 2025 World Expo in Osaka, with the Super Hakuto service currently offering the only direct express rail connection between Tottori and Japan's Keihanshin region, which includes expo host city Osaka, as well the cities of Kyoto and Kobe.

"Today marked the departure of the Detective Conan train and soon the expo will open in Osaka. We hope that many people will ride on this train which connects the two regions and come here to experience the onsen, historical townscapes, and delicious food," Tottori Governor Shinji Hirai told reporters after the departure. 

"We expect the economic impacts to be many and significant," he said of the project which including the train decoration and related events had a budget of around 70 million yen.

"Conan-kun" poses with Tottori Gov. Shinji Hirai during the departure ceremony of the Super Hakuto Detective Conan Ver. train at Kurayoshi Station. Photo taken Dec. 3, 2023.

The new-look train is the latest effort of a region which is embracing its connection with Aoyama and his works as part of efforts to develop anime tourism.

In Aoyama's hometown of Hokuei the Gosho Aoyama Manga Factory, which features exhibits celebrating the life and work of the artist, including original drawings which can only be seen at the factory, is scheduled for a revamp in 2027.  The facility is within walking distance of Yura Station which in 2013 adopted the nickname Conan Station.

Yura Station, also known as Conan Station, in the town of Hokuei, Tottori Pref. Photo taken Dec. 3, 2023.

In 2015 an airport in Tottori City was renamed Tottori Sand Dunes Conan Airport to highlight the region's connection with the manga as well as the nearby sand dunes, a popular tourist destination.

Aoyama's Detective Conan has been serialized in Weekly Shonen Sunday since 1994. Sales of Detective Conan series comics (English title, Case Closed) have topped 270 million worldwide.

"I was surprised and at the same time honored to see the Super Hakuto express train, which connects Keihanshin and Tottori and Kurayoshi, decorated with Detective Conan. I hope this train, which we connect with in many different ways, will continue to be loved by us all forever," Aoyama, 60, said in a statement.

Super Hakuto Detective Conan Ver. train at a depot in Tottori City. Photo taken Dec. 2, 2023.

The Super Hakuto Detective Conan Ver. train runs between Kurayoshi and Tottori stations, in Tottori Prefecture, and stations in the Keihanshin region including Sannomiya, Osaka, and Kyoto. 

The train is scheduled to depart almost daily with timetables now available for December and January. Chizu Express plans to publish subsequent timetables at least one month in advance. Purchase of tickets for seats on the train can be made from one month in advance of the departure date, until the time of departure.

For more images of the Super Hakuto Detective Conan Ver. train visit the gallery on City-Cost.