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Wednesday, 18th June 2014
In Japan Travel News,

KitKat wrappers to double as train tickets

KitKat chocolate bars have always proven exceptionally popular in Japan, and the development of new flavours such as green tea, edamame, purple sweet potato and even pizza has done much to fuel the craze.

Now, however, boxes of the tasty snack are flying off shelves for a different reason entirely, following the announcement that the wrappers will be accepted as train tickets on the Sanriku Railway Network.

The initiative is part of a public relations campaign to revive tourism in the Fukushima prefecture - which is served by the railway in question - which continues to flag following a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami that displaced millions and crippled the nuclear power plant.

Efforts to repair the Sanriku Railway, which lost six kilometres of track as well as numerous bridges and stations, have only recently restored full operation to the transportation network.

The idea for using KitKats as tickets on the train came about after Nestle discovered that reconstruction teams working on the project had been given the sweet snack to encourage them to work harder.

A campaign was quickly launched that saw 20 yen donated to the reconstruction effort per KitKat bar sold. The company even went as far as to decorate two trains with cherry blossoms - a symbol of hope in Japan.

The special packs of KitKats are likely to be popular with travellers as they can be purchased for just 108 yen (62p) - significantly less than the price of a standard ticket aboard the Sanriku Railway.

It is anticipated that the initiative will continue well into 2015 as efforts to revive the local economy continue.

In Japan, it is a common custom to give someone a KitKat for good luck, thanks to the similarity of the chocolate bar's name with the Japanese phrase for good luck: Kitto-Katsu.

Written by Graham McPherson