Save us, Sabus!

Shinki Bus, which services Himeji City and surrounding areas, has been a prestigious transportation firm over the years. Even their mascot, Nikopa-chan, was a finalist in both the 2017 and 2019 nationwide Bus Character Championships.

▼ The elusive Nikopa-chan

However, this contest is now on indefinite hiatus, as the entire transportation industry has taken a big hit from the pandemic. Bus companies in particular were already facing hard times due to a declining population and general lifestyle changes, but the huge drop-off in commuting and tourism over the past two years has made running bus lines extremely difficult.

So, one way Shinki Bus plans to adapt is by diversifying into the mobile sauna market, which I don’t think existed until just now. This new service is called Sabus, which is a portmanteau of “sauna” and “bus.”

▼ The regular Shinki Bus logo of a bird is converted here into the fires of a sauna and the pin of a destination

Rather than let its valuable space go to waste, Shinki is currently converting a decommissioned city bus into a full-fledged steam room on wheels. To accomplish this the company has also created a subsidiary called “Ribahsu” which in Japanese is homonymous with “rebirth” and “re-bus.”

▼ Before

▼ After

Much of the bus’ interior is redone in a charming wooden design, and some of the buttons normally used to request a stop will be repurposed to generate steam.

According to the press release, Sabus is intended to be parked in large areas for special events, but the presence of straps and handles on the seat might suggest that an actual moving sauna is perhaps a possibility.

More details about how Sabus will function will likely be revealed as its expected February 2022 completion date draws nearer. It is also only the first in a line of repurposed bus services that Ribahsu is planning such as mobile day care rooms or mobile shower and bath stations which may provide useful support in disaster hit areas.

For now though it looks like Shinki Bus is relying on the fact that everyone loves a good schvitz, from mayors to monks. We’ll be looking forward to how Sabus continues to take shape in the months to come.

Source: Sabus, PR Times
Images: PR Times