Starlight Express the Musical Wiki

The Japanese Engine is, on pure speed, the fastest engine. However, his abilities tend to make him rash and less tactical than other engines. This means he is easily pushed into over-extending himself and crashing out of control.


In the original London story, the Japanese Engine raced with C.B. in Heat 1, but once the brake truck was cut in the 1992 revamp, he raced with Krupp.

In most productions, he races with Volta. In Broadway, he races in Heat 2 and the Uphill Final, but is knocked out. In the German production he races in Heat 1. However through the drama of the race in the German production, Caboose pushes Volta aside, and steals her place. The Japanese Engine continues the race with Caboose, but the brake truck fails to slow him down in time for a crucial turn just before the end of the race, causing him to crash spectacularly. In 2018, his partner was changed to Wrench. In Japan and Australia, he races with one of the Rockies in Heat 1 while his twin Nakamura races in Heat 2 with Volta. In this version, he races in both the final and the rerun, but is knocked out mid race in the rerun.

The recent tours using the 3D footage partner him with Buffy.

Name history

In the original production, the Japanese Engine was called "Hashamoto". The 1992 re-vamp changed the name to "Nintendo" in all English language productions, whereas in Germany he kept the original name "Hashamoto". In Japan and Australia, however, there were two Shinkansen engines - one called "Hashimoto" and the other was "Nakamura" (in 1987) or "Yamamoto" (in 1990).

In 2018, the Bochum production underwent significant revisions for the show's 30th anniversary. The Japanese Engine was re-branded "Manga", and given a predominantly silver colour scheme, with yellow highlights.

In John Napier's original designs, the Japanese engine is labelled as "Yoshimoto".


In London, all the Nationals wore similar costumes of coloured stripes and boxes painted with allusions to their real-world engines, but far from direct models. The feeling was of a set of toy engines Control has carefully painted to represent the different countries. Hashamoto was yellow and white stripes, with the Japanese flag on his chest and back.

The Broadway transfer saw a major overhaul in the Engine's costumes, with significantly more budget and the goal to make them bigger and more impressive. Hashamoto developed more of the aerodynamic curves of the Bullet Train. The Broadway costumes went on to be used for the US tour and Las Vegas productions. Once the show went to Germany and the Japan/Australia tours, he was re-coloured from yellow to blue.

When the 3D races were being filmed for the 2003 US Tour, the production company used old blue German costumes that could be broken down for the filming. This brought the US tour costumes in line with the German as the costumes onstage had to match the ones on film.


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1984 - 1985 Drue Williams
1985 - 1987 Eamon Geoghegan
1987 - 1988 Trevor Hodge / Gary Forbes
1988 - 1989 ?
1989 - 1990 ?
1990 - 1991 Masayoshi Hamana
1991 - 1992 Simon Harrison-Scott
1992 - 1994 Scott Pattison (as Nintendo)
1994 - 1995 Grant Anthony
1995 - 1997 Adam Floyd
1997 - 1998 Andrew Spillett
1998 - 1999 Richard Twyman
1999 - 2000 Adam Floyd
2000 - 2001 Leo Bidwell
2001 - 2002 Paul Ramsay


1987 (Temporary) D Michael Heath
1987 - 1989 Ken Rose

Japan / Australia Tours

1987 Hashimoto Mayo Kawasaki Nakamura Harold Yi
1990 Hashimoto Hiroshi Watari Yamamoto Kenichiro Maeno

Bochum, Germany

1988 - 1989 Ric Mount
1989 - 1990 John Little
1990 - 1991 Gary Forbes / Ramon Visser
1991 - 1992 Chris Lamontagne
1992 - 1993 Kirk Kuhn
1993 - 1996 Robert Jakeman
1996 - 1998 Kouta Otsuka
1998 - 1999 Joop Leiwakabessy
1999 - 2007 Tom Moneypenny
2007 - 2008 Eddie Dredge
2008 - 2010 Travis Hickey
2010 - 2012 Vladimir Hub
2012 - 2014 Nils Haberstroh
2014 - 2016 Elliot Collins
2016 - 2017 Dewayne Adams
2017 - 2018 Paddy Joe Martin
2018 - 2019 Gary Sheridan (as Manga)
2019 - 2020 Jamie Sidhom
2020 - 2021 Vladimir Hub (Cancelled due to Covid)
2021 - 2023 Vladimir Hub

US Tour 1989 - 1991

1989 - 1991 Glenn Shiroma

Las Vegas 1993 - 1997

1993 - 1994 Bob Lee Dysinger
1994 - 1995 Robert Dean
1995 - 1996 ?
1996 - 1997 Juan Cantu
1997 - close Richard D Barber

US Tour 2003 - 2004

2003 - 2004 Robert Roby / Angelo Rivera

UK Tours 2004 - 2008

2004 - 2005 Philippe Reynolds
2006 - 2007 Tim Driesen
2007 - 2008 Matt Krzan

NZ Tour 2009

2009 Clayton Curnow

UK Tour 2012-2013

2012 - 2013 Nick Bower
Asia 2013 Nick Bower


While Control describes Hashamoto as one of the "champion engines of the world," bullet trains are technically Electric-Multiple Units (EMU's) , meaning they are powered by "self-propelled carriages" rather than a locomotive.

When the show opened in 1984, there were two models of Shinkansen that Hashamoto could have been designed after: the 0 series, capable of 140 mph, and the 200 series, which could reach speeds between 130 mph to 171 mph, depending on the built date.

"Hashamoto" is actually a misspelling of an actual Japanese surname. The Australia/Japan Tour changed it to the proper spelling "Hashimoto."

"Yamamoto" (the second Shinkansen from the 2nd Japan Tour) also uses a Japanese surname.