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Kyoto is best known as a bastion of Japan’s traditional past, where the visual and performing arts developed during the feudal era still command the highest respect. Japan’s former capital is also making a bid to become a center for modern popular culture as well, though. 2006 saw the opening of the Kyoto International Manga Museum, and the city also plays host to the annual Kyoto International Manga Anime Fair.

Kyoto’s love for anime is truly a two-way street, as the city serves as the setting for numerous animated series. Apparently the relationship between anime and Kyoto has progressed to a point where the two feel comfortable with an overt display of public affection, in the form of a special subway train plastered with anime graphics.

The collaborative slice of public transportation is a joint effort between the Kyoto municipal government and organizers of the Manga Anime Fair. Two of the six cars on the train are decorated with images from four series set in Kyoto.

Inari , Konkon, Koi Iroha is a supernatural love story that follows middle schooler Inari Fushimi and her dealings with fox spirits enshrined at the real-life Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto, easily one of the coolest places in Japan.

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Japanese folklore is also the inspiration behind The Eccentric Family, which follows the daily lives of a group of shape shifting tanuki raccoon dogs in modern-day Kyoto.

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Kyosogiga takes an even more fantastical approach, with a story that unfolds in an alternate-reality Kyoto where humans, spirits, and robots coexist. The series does feature beautiful real-life locales, however, such as Kosanji, Kuramadera, and Genkoan Temples.

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Finally, Hakuoki started off as a dating game for girls wherein the heroine is romanced by members of the Shinsengumi, a 19th century police/vigilante group whose exploits in Kyoto are frequently and dramatically romanticized in Japanese fiction. The franchise has since grown to include anime adaptations, and the Kyoto anime subway features designs from the second animated theatrical installment, which just opened on May 8 in Japan.

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But while the giant-sized characters adorning the outside of the cars do a fine job of promoting their respective anime, by themselves they won’t accomplish the other aim of the project, encouraging more people to ride the subway. Realizing this, the designers have also decorated the subway cars’ interiors with even more scenes from the shows. You and a friend can even pass the time by reading the lines of dialogue printed next to the door in your best anime character voices.

▼ The graphics cover up some of the windows, but it’s the subway, so it’s not like passengers are missing out on the view.

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▼ On the one hand, this angle really drives home the stubborn opposition between these two. Still, when the doors slide closed and they rush towards each other, isn’t it going to look like they’re about to kiss?

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▼ Yes, she is pointing a rifle at a group of children. We’re assuming it’s less deplorable in context.

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▼ We’re guessing, based on this guy’s good looks, that more girls will be willing to sit next to him than us when we were bleeding from the mouth on the train.

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The special train runs on the Karasuma Line. It’s scheduled to be in service from now until the end of May, so if you time your trip right, Kyoto could satisfy your desire to see temples, cherry blossoms, and the latest anime characters all in one fell swoop.

Source, images: Kyoto International Manga Anime Fair