Japanese tour buses turned into maze


The COVID-19 pandemic has brought travel to a standstill, affecting countless businesses in the tourism industry. But just like how Japanese farmers have turned masks into new promotional tactics, a bus company in Japan has come up with an innovative solution to turn crisis into opportunity by arranging their idle tour buses into an intricate maze


60 idle buses turned into huge maze


Japanese tour buses turned into maze - overhead shot of hato bus maze
Image credit: The Sankei Shimbun

Hato Bus is a sightseeing bus company in Japan that offers a variety of tour routes in the Kantō region. According to Sankei Shimbun, in order to cope with a lack of tourists and put their idle buses to good use, the company has turned their empty tour buses into a giant intricate maze.

Japanese tour buses turned into maze - hato bus maze
Image credit: The Sankei Shimbun

60 3.8-metre-tall sightseeing buses were utilised to form a giant maze at the company’s depot at Tokyo Station. To get a feel of what it’s like to have the buses loom over your head, check out this video.


Bus maze experience part of special tour package


Japanese tour buses turned into maze - schedule of hato bus maze package
Schedule of the tour 
Image adapted from: Hato Bus

As part of a special tour package offered by Hato Bus, which includes a round trip to Small Worlds Tokyo, passengers will get the chance to navigate the specially constructed maze. From 19th to 22nd September, a total of 12 buses will go from Tokyo Station to Small Worlds Tokyo and back. 

Japanese tour buses turned into maze - kansai international airport exhibition at small worlds tokyo
Diorama of Kansai International Airport 
Image credit: Small Worlds Tokyo 

Small Worlds Tokyo is an indoor miniature theme park situated in Ariake, Tokyo. It is the world’s largest miniature theme park, featuring exhibitions of dioramas of iconic places like the Kansai International Airport. 

Japanese tour buses turned into maze - evangelion exhibition at small worlds tokyo
Miniature of Evangelion Unit-01 from the anime series Evangelion. 
Image credit: Small Worlds Tokyo 

Scaled-down fictional worlds from hit anime series like Sailor Moon and Evangelion are also exhibited in the theme park. After a leisurely afternoon at Small Worlds Tokyo, passengers will be transported to the depot where the maze is held and they will be given time to figure their way out. 

Japanese tour buses turned into maze - hato bus ventilation demonstration
Image adapted from: Hato Bus 

At the bus depot, there will also be a “ventilation demonstration” conducted for those who are worried about commuting in an enclosed space in the midst of a pandemic. To put their minds at ease, white smoke will be dispensed and replaced with clean air in about 5 minutes, showcasing the vehicle’s efficient ventilation system. 

The whole tour will take a little over 5 hours, after which passengers will be brought back to Tokyo Station. Tickets are sold at a discounted price of ¥4,980 (~USD47.40) thanks to the Go To Travel campaign that is ongoing in Japan. Admission into Small Worlds Tokyo and a lunch set comprising paripari (crispy) chicken with a side of salad and rice are included in the price as well. 


Witty comments by netizens


Japanese tour buses turned into maze - screenshot of netizen's twitter comment
Image adapted from: @Mulboyne

Although many netizens applauded the bus company for their creativity, a select number of users found the set up to be more creepy than ingenious. User @tokyochemist even suggested that zombies can be added to up the spook level for Halloween. 

Japanese tour buses turned into maze - screenshot of netizen's twitter comment
Image adapted from: @Namelesz7

Japanese tour buses turned into maze - screenshot of netizen's twitter comment
Image adapted from: @bloomzy_

Other users like @Namelesz7 even quipped that the set up “looks like the beginning of a very strange horror movie”, and the sentiment was echoed by user @bloomzy_.

Japanese tour buses turned into maze - screenshot of netizen's twitter comment
Image adapted from: @mi26an

User @mi26an was unamused, commenting that the maze will “end up looking like a bus cemetery if they don’t do it right”. Clearly, the makeshift maze is spookier than Hato Bus hoped for. 


Japanese bus company turns buses into maze


Despite what the reactions of these netizens might suggest, the tour package has been well-received in Japan as slots are almost completely sold out. Given its popularity, we wouldn’t be surprised if Hato Bus follows up with a zombified maze during Halloween. 

Check out more interesting news about Japan here:

Cover image adapted from: Hato Bus