A very different kind of bus tour for tourists.

It’s been a tough year for businesses, particularly those tied to the tourism industry, as international and domestic travel restrictions brought about by the pandemic have put a huge dent in financial turnovers.

One of the businesses affected has been Japan’s Hato Bus company. Known as one of Tokyo’s leading tour operators, Hato Bus was forced to put the brakes on business operations for several months during the nationwide state of emergency earlier this year.

While tours started back up again on a much smaller scale from June, the company recorded 20 million yen (US$190,551) in sales during the usually busy summer holiday month of August. This pales in comparison to the same time last year, when figures clocked in at 150 million yen (US$1.4 million).

Like many companies, Hato Bus has had to think outside of the box in order to stay afloat during these troubling times, and they came up with a brilliant solution — using the empty buses at their head depot to create a giant maze.

▼ The maze is a display of expert parking prowess.

The maze was made up of 60 buses, all parked tightly together in various formations to create narrow thoroughfares on the grounds of the Tokyo Station depot.


The company decided to offer the unusual maze experience to customers as part of a special bus tour from Tokyo Station to the Small Worlds Tokyo theme park in Ariake, with tickets priced at 4,980 yen (US$47.44) for adults and 3,980 yen for children, including admission.

The promise of a giant bus maze immediately caught the attention of the public, with the head office inundated with calls and tickets quickly selling out before the event.

Speaking to the media about the impetus behind the unusual maze experience, the head of the company’s PR department, Yusei Ishikawa, told news outlets that they wanted to dispel the common misconception that buses aren’t as well ventilated as trains.

Looking for ways to educate the public on the ventilation systems used inside their buses, they decided to create a special tour that included the maze…and an onboard experience that demonstrates how the air inside is exchanged with the air outside every five minutes.

▼ The video below is lined up at the moment a smoke machine is used to show how well-ventilated the vehicles are.

The tour was limited to six groups of 30 and ran during the 19-22 September long weekend. It’s a brilliant marketing plan by the bus company that brought us the single women’s host club tour, and one they’ll hopefully offer again in the future. Because now everyone knows about their ventilation capabilities, bus travel doesn’t look so bad after all!

Source: NHK via Hachima Kikou
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Insert images: SoraNews24, PR Times
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