A new superhero has arrived to save the people of Osaka from evildoers. This is great because just the other day some savage left an empty can in my bicycle’s basket while I parked it.
Unfortunately for me, his beat is just on the Rapi:t express train running between downtown’s Namba Station and Kansai International Airport. But if you happen to find trouble on the way to or from KIX there’s only one name to call out for help: Rapi…Ra…Rapee-itl-dee-yer!!?
Thanks to the Japanese spelling we can get a good sense of his name. In Japanese the “t” is pronounced like “toe” so the ending would be like “-toldier” very similar to “soldier.” However, even knowing this it’s still a bit of a mouthful to say “Ra-pee-tol-jer” and without a working knowledge of Japanese katakana one would be even more in the dark.
Also, as you probably assumed, the errant colon in his name is because of the Rapi:t train that he represents. This is a rapid service from Namba to the airport that will get you there or back in a little over 30 minutes. Its name is German for “rapid” and the “i:” is an approximation of the International Phonetic Alphabet symbol for an “ee” sound.
Of course, when making a mascot aimed at foreigners, it’s important to have a catchy name that takes two paragraphs to explain. But that’s not all to Rapi:tldier’s charm! His head is also modeled after the locomotive of the Rapi:t and he’s sporting a cape with leopard print lining. This is a pattern beloved by many an upper-middle-aged Osaka woman.
Now that we’re all up to speed, please watch the 20 minute video below showing us The Birth of Rapi:tldier.
It’s endearing that the staff of Nankai Electric Railway (at least I hope that’s just the Nankai staff) did the entire production in English.
In the meantime Rapi:tldier will be making appearances at various international travel events to promote Osaka and their train. Keep an eye out for him and be sure to practice how to pronounce his name in case you ever do run into him.
Sources: How To Enjoy Osaka, Namba Keizai Shimbun
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