The mystery of the train-riding crabs sparks interest around the country.

It’s not unusual to stumble across something out of the ordinary while waiting on a station platform to board a Japanese train. Over the years, commuters have seen secret milk stands, heard the voice of an adult video game voice actress over the speakers, and boarded carriages to the tune of Star Wars jingles.

Now commuters are talking about another bizarre discovery, thanks to a series of images taken by Twitter user @absol161 at Nishi-Funabashi Station in Chiba, Tokyo’s neighbouring prefecture.

The image above shows a signboard, usually reserved for displaying train arrival and departure times, lit up with a series of bright orange crabs. And they weren’t the only coloured crabs taking over the display, as they were soon followed by another set of cheeky crustaceans, only this time they were going for a joyride on a train.

Crabs don’t usually appear on electric signboards at the station, so these images would be enough to stop any regular commuter dead in their tracks. However, this wasn’t the end of the surprise, as the next image to appear was a message that said, “Eat crabs in Hokuriku“.

And then: “Crabs are waiting“.

Soon after these images were posted online, some Twitter users couldn’t help but wonder if a giant crustacean had taken over the controls at the station. Perhaps decked out in a rail attendant’s uniform, using its giant claws to save itself and its local brethren by manipulating the display to get people hungry for crabs in the Hokuriku region of Ishikawa, Fukui, Niigata and Toyama prefectures.

According to local commuters, though, platforms 2 and 3 at Nishi-Funabashi are only busy during the morning and evening rush hours, which is why a sign like this wouldn’t interfere with normal operations. However, a number of Twitter users revealed Nishi-Funabashi Station wasn’t the only place with a severe case of crabs, as the walls of Akihabara Station in Tokyo were plastered with crustaceans as well.

The walkway and pillars at Ikebukuro Station were also covered with bright red crabs, and these ones were carrying white love hearts.

A closer look at the posters reveals that the crab craziness is all part of a special “Eat crabs in Hokuriku” campaign currently being run by East Japan Railway, in conjunction with organisations and travel companies from Hokuriku, to encourage people to enjoy the winter specialty in the region.

The campaign is set to run until 31 March next year, so the crabs won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. Keep an eye out for them during your travels!

Source: Hachima Kikou
Images: Twitter/@absol161