Sam's Japan Travel Journal
by Sam, staff writer of japan-guide.com
2016/04/19 - Kyoto Railway Museum
April 29, 2016 marks the eagerly anticipated grand opening of the
Kyoto Railway Museum. Covering an area of 30,000 square meters on the former site of the Umekoji Steam Locomotive Museum, a 20 minute walk west of Kyoto Station, the new museum boasts an impressive collection of 53 trains that span the history of rail travel in Japan from steam locomotives to the shinkansen.
The museum recounts the country's railway history through an array of interactive exhibitions and artifacts, and serves as
western Japan's counterpart to Japan's other great train museums, the Railway Museum in Saitama north of Tokyo and Nagoya's SCMAGLEV and Railway Park.
The japan-guide.com team was lucky enough to be granted special access to the museum ahead of the public opening. It was a fantastic opportunity to experience the impressive sights and features that await future visitors.
The museum boasts an impressive collection of 53 retired trains
The 0-series, Japan's original shinkansen (bullet train)
The 100-series shinkansen up front
The 500-series shinkansen, the first train to run at 300 km/h in operation
A freight train locomotive
The interior of an old passenger train
The museum's roundhouse turntable is one of Japan's oldest. Built in 1914, it is recognized as an Important Cultural Property by the Japanese government.
The roundhouse is home to the country's largest collection of steam locomotives
An old steam locomotive gets worked on in full view of museum visitors
The first locomotive type manufactured in Japan (earlier locomotives were imported from overseas)
Uniforms, tools and other railway appurtenances from bygone eras
Replicated ticket gates of a train station of the past
A collection of sophisticated simulators enable visitors to practice driving a train around a virtual cityscape
A replica of a contemporary driver's cab.
The museum's diorama is one of the biggest in the country and is run by a single operator who not only controls the trains, but also gives live commentaries.
The museum's diorama features trains from different regions, companies and eras of Japan
Visitors can also watch modern trains and shinkansen from the museum's Sky Terrace on the third floor
The terrace offers nice views of trains with Toji Temple as backdrop
The beautiful former Nijo Station building. Originally built in 1904 and now serving as the museum's exit, this building is the oldest of its kind in Japan.
Kyoto Railway Museum page for practical details.