Imagine getting on a train after slogging through the slush-filled streets of Tokyo under a grey cloud-filled sky. With the usual packed row of seats, you’re forced to stand while you manipulate your Twitter feed with only one hand.

Then you begin to notice and odd sensation in the hand you’re using to keep your footing as the train jerks and rattles along. The strap you had unwittingly chosen feels a little different to normal. Looking up, you discover that it is in fact in the shape of a heart, and next to it is another heart-shaped hand strap being held into by another. Then your two eyes meet and you’re both struck by what Michael Corleone referred to as a “lightning bolt.”

This is exactly the kind of scene Japan Rail East hoped will play out in the days leading up to Valentine’s Day when they installed a single pair of heart-shaped hand straps on trains running along the Keiyo Line.

JR East made the announcement about their strangely romantic gesture via its Facebook page this last weekend. The company says that the straps can be found on Keiyo trains until 14 February, but the trains in which they are installed and their locations within them will change over the days. They hope that this small gesture could help love to bloom on trains and give other riders a romantic show if it does.

The Keiyo Line (not to be confused with the Keio Corporation’s Keio Line) serves parks and many large-scale shopping and entertainment facilities such as Tokyo Disneyland in the event of a spontaneous date breaking out. Reaction to the announcement on Facebook was largely positive, with many calling the idea “cute” and saying things like, “This is a playful idea! Indeed when I rush onto the train I wouldn’t notice what hand-strap I grab. But if I looked up and noticed the heart by chance it would be pretty fun.”

Of course there were also some who didn’t get into the spirit of the event calling it “ridiculous” and saying “there’s a high probability that this will just make people uncomfortable.”

Whether you’re looking for the heart-shaped straps or looking to avoid them, you better keep your eyes up when riding the Keiyo Line. As JR East said, the locations will change regularly. I guess they won’t end up in the Women Only cars, although you’ll excuse me when I say that that could be kind of hot.

Source: Facebook – JR East via Netlab
Keiyo Map: Wikipedia – RailRider