While waiting on your commuter train, a wagon neatly decorated all over with crayoned swinging monkeys, grazing elephants and prowling snakes pulls into the station. Is the children’s zoo in town? Far from that! This recently happened for real on the Odakyu Line. PingMag got curious and asked them what this was all about: These colourful kid’s illustrations on the train are the result of a design contest. Today PingMag tells you more about this wonderful idea to put a little colour into the rat race of Tokyo.
Written by Ryoko
Translated by Kevin Mcgue
In commemoration of their 80th anniversary, Odakyu Railway held a “Train Design Contest” to collect drawings from children all over Japan. At the conclusion, two of the submitted works were used to decorate actual trains. We contacted the PR department at Odakyu to learn more:
We wanted to create a railway that is kid-friendly, and also deepen the communication with kids. So we held this contest, which also encouraged the involvement of the kids’ families, says the Odakyu spokesperson.
A poster in a train announcing the contest…
… and more info in the train station.
Then, the contest started this July: Designs were collected from children elementary school age and younger, under the theme of “Our Dream Train”. Submissions were accepted during students’ summer holidays, and lots of creative works by ‘young and upcoming artists’ were sent in. Within two months, 2,511 submissions made their way to Odakyu!
Oh! I want to ride that train – such a natural mood enhancer.
Yuichi Kimura, an illustrator of children’s books, was the special guest judge for the contest.
Judges for the contest included university professors – and children’s books illustrator Yuichi Kimura – to go through all these amazing colourful creations. In the end, eighty designs were short-listed, and among these, awards were given to eight:
Finally, two drawings were selected to be applied onto actual wagons: Nanako Kato’s drawing of many happy animals on a bright yellow background, and Kazutera Maehira’s colourful and dynamic picture of Mount Fuji.
On the 17th of last month, Odakyu held an awards ceremony and also unveiled the newly decorated trains (and cheering them with lots of bubbles.) Ten children, including the two winners, were honourably mentioned by judges, Yuichi Kimura and Masanori Mizunuma of Takaratomy, and all the parents joined proudly.
Winner Nanako Kato said that she drew her design to express the fun of riding trains with others, and Kazutera Maehira explained that he drew some scenes of the town around Ebina Station. Children’s book illustrator Yuichi Kimura commented:
There were so many wonderful designs that the judges really had a difficult task. These two were especially attractive and uplifting designs. The drawings express their feelings in a direct way and, by looking at them, it makes me wish to draw like that!”
At the unveiling ceremony, the train, which was decorated on both sides with the winning designs, slowly pulled out from a large garage into a shower of bubbles that was activated by the children’s signal. When the little designers finally got to see their work up close, they were beaming with excitement and pride.
And the train is not only decorated on the outside: Inside, you can see many of the other submitted works on display. If passengers look at these bright drawings on their way to work, it puts instantly a smile on their faces. Since so many use this train every day, word is spreading quickly.
Simply lovely! The kid’s train designs will be on the Odakyu Line between Shinjuku and Shin-Matsuda and the Tama Line between Shin-Jiyugaoka and Karakida until the end of March, 2008. Watch out for these!