Yes, you can use the JR Pass for Hello Kitty Shinkansen as it's a Kodama train.
If the short experience of Hello Kitty Shinkansen is OK, Hakata - Hakata Minami ride costs 300 yen. It's just 5 minutes ride. Kodama 741 departs Hakata at 16:11 and arrives at Hakata Minami at 16:21.
I rode the Hello Kitty Shinkansen this past Saturday. Here are a few observations from my trip that may be helpful to those of you wanting to travel on the train. I was not traveling on a JR Pass.
The train itself is something to see from the outside and inside. The first two cars of the train (my train was eight cars) were the intense Hello Kitty experiences--Car 1 was a special Hello Kitty gift ship, video area, and photo op area. The second car features the life-sized Hello Kitty figurine for photo ops and includes Hello Kitty headrest covers. The other six cars of the train (one a reserved car) were normal train cars, with small exceptions (door decorations, signage, etc.).
The train is a local--it makes every main stop between Hakata Station and Shin-Osaka. If you want the express train experience instead, consider not taking this train or taking it for only part of its run.
I enjoyed the trip and had the extra time to spend in traveling. I am happy to respond to any questions if/as desired.
We caught the 11.29 from Shin Osaka and got off at Himeji. The reservations were sold out, so we queued at the space for carriage two (unreserved, Hello Kitty car). By getting there early, we were first in the queue, (until someone pushed in at the last minute!)
It was a fun experience - particularly seeing all the little kids getting so excited over the large Hello KItty in the carriage, (one little girl wouldn't stop hugging it - much to the amusement of everyone else and the frustration of her grandmother!)
Highly recommended if you can fit it into your schedule and a good use of the JR pass!
I got to the platform at 10.30 am, (about an hour before) and was first in line. You must go to the line for Carriage Two, (which is the unreserved and Hello Kitty decorated carriage next to the HK souvenir car, (carriage one). The line for Car Two is to the left of the platform as you go up the stairs.
Ignore the other trains that will come in first and be prepared to stand back and let queuing customers behind you get on the earlier non-Hello Kitty trains. But be careful! It was when I was standing back to let some businessmen get onto an earlier train, (they had been queuing behind me for their train's unreserved Car 2), that a woman and her daughter pushed in front of us so we lost our place at the front of the queue for the Hello Kitty train. This was annoying, but not the end of the world as we still got on second!
Not everyone in line managed to get onto the train as the queue got very long as we approached 11.29 am so I do recommend getting there early.
It was a lot of fun and worth making the effort!
Thank you so much for the detailed information, I greatly appreciate it!! I will attempt to make a seat reservation with my JR pass when I arrive, but I doubt I'll have any luck, so I'll try my best at doing what you did! Thanks again for your time <3
You can't make a reservation for car 2. If you make a reservation for another car as a back up, (which the girls behind us had done), then you are guaranteed a seat elsewhere on the train, if you don't get into car 2, but of course you are preventing someone else from using the seats you have booked and they will stay empty if you are in the HK car.
Most of the time that doesn't matter as there will be seats available somewhere for people,but when I was coming back from Hiroshima,(not on the HK train), it was full to bursting!
Good luck with your trip - we found it a lot of fun!