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Retro style bus in northeast Japan city giving free rides to lure tourists

A retro 1960's style bus is seen running on a street in front of The Bank of Iwate's historical red-brick building in the city of Morioka. (Mainichi/Maika Hyuga)

MORIOKA -- A front-engine bus with a retro 1960s style is operating free of charge in the center of this northeastern Japan city until Nov. 29 in a bid to attract tourists.

    The dog-nose bus, registered in 1968, is owned by Northern Iwate Transportation Inc. The free rides were planned by a town development group consisting of residents and shop owners in Morioka's Hachiman-cho district in Iwate Prefecture. The group made use of the central government's economic stimulus package for shopping streets to curb the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which is part of the "Go To" travel subsidy campaign.

    Kimio Oishi, 56, leader of the group, said, "You can enjoy the Showa-era (1926-1989) feeling, such as the rattling sound in the bus and the driver putting some muscle into making turns. I hope passengers will go shop and dine in our shopping street after they get off the bus."

    (Japanese original by Maika Hyuga, Morioka Bureau)

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