Japan Rail West offering chance to sleep in a platypus’ mouth

Great for fans of strange mammals and/or contactless payment services.

Japan was relatively late to the cashless payment game compared to other developed countries, but one early adopter was railway giant Japan Rail (JR). JR is split up into various regions of the country, each having had their own signature smart card, such as JR East’s Suica, and JR Kyushu’s SUGOCA, for well over decade now.

JR West, meanwhile, is represented by the ICOCA, whose name both symbolizes that it’s an “IC CArd” and is a play on the Japanese phrase “iko ka” which means “shall we get going?” For the mascot, Ico-chan the platypus was created.

▼ A video explanation of how to use your platypus cards

A platypus mascot might sound completely random at first but there’s actually some logic behind the choice. For starters, the animal’s unique characteristics as a mammal which lays eggs and has a bill like a bird’s make it a symbol of evolution, especially away from the norm. A platypus’ highly specialized parts such as its tail that helps it swim and bill suitable for scooping up prey highlight ICOCA’s functionality. And finally, kind of like how an IC card works, platypuses have the ability to generate their own electric fields, only they use it to detect nearby prey rather than record payments.

Of course, even though the choice of a platypus as a mascot is clearly rational, that doesn’t stop JR West from getting a little wacky with it from time to time. For example, from 2 to 31 May, they are accepting pre-orders for Ico-chan the Platypus “Aaaah” Cushions for 29,700 yen (US$228).

You might be wondering why Ico-chain’s bill is so grossly overextended, as if saying “aaaaah” to have its tonsils checked. It’s so it may humbly accept your head, of course! 

Just sliding your cranium into this semiaquatic mammal’s pie hole is a one-way ticket to rest and relaxation. You’ll even be pleased to notice that on the roof of it’s mouth is an illustration of a sleepy Ico-chan saying “Shall we get going to dream…zzzzz”.

Granted you’d probably have to be a pretty devout fan of Ico-chan to spend that much money to stick your head in its mouth. Luckily, for those still just getting into the character, JR West is releasing a lot of other merchandise too. Taking the train is a common way to reach holiday destinations in Japan, so it’s only fitting that an ICOCA picnic mat featuring Ico-chan is sold for 1,650 yen.

Even for those more into staying at home in their free time, Ico-chan jigsaw puzzles are available in both 100 and 500 pieces for 1,650 yen and 2,420 yen respectively

▼ The puzzles also feature the smartphone version of Ico-chan, which is white

And finally, when it’s time to go back to school or work, there’s the Ico-chan pencil case for 770 yen.

Still, the pillow is probably the way to go, given the choice. Not only is it a prime piece of Ico-chan merch, but its catching onto the hot new trend of sleeping in cat houses for the ultimate in rest.

Source: Train Box, JR West via Netlab
Images: JR West
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