A must-see for railroad fans! Visit railway museums in Kyoto and Saitama!

The “Kyoto Railway Museum” is a popular tourist spot that has just opened recently.

The “Kyoto Railway Museum” opened in April 2016. With fifty-three cars on display including steam locomotives and Shinkansen bullet trains, it is the largest railway museum in Japan. At the entrance is the “Promenade” created in the image of a train station platform, which is lined with representative trains of Japan’s railroad history including a “0 Series Shinkansen bullet train” from 1964 when it was first developed, and a “C62 steam locomotive”. At the open-ceiling space on the first floor of the main building at the end of the Promenade are even more cars including the “500 Series Shinkansen bullet train”, which was featured by its long and pointy front car. The driving simulator is a popular attraction. It comes with driver’s uniforms and caps, and lets you feel as if you are a real train driver.

On display at the hundred meter-long Promenade
On display at the hundred meter-long Promenade, which was created in the image of a train station platform, are train cars such as a “C62 steam locomotive” and a “0 Series Shinkansen bullet train”, which was introduced in conjunction with the 1964 Olympics and known as the “Super Express of Dreams”. ©kyoto railway museum
Main Building
At the spacious open-ceiling “Main Building” are representative trains of JR West such as a “500 Series Shinkansen bullet train” car (left), a “581 Series car” (center), which served as an express train with sleeping berths, and a hood-type“489 Series car” (right). ©kyoto railway museum
Twilight Plaza
The “Twilight Plaza” is a space where a truss structure (a framed structure using multiple triangles), which was conceived by a European architect in the fourteenth century. On display here are an electric locomotive, sleeping car, and the “Twilight Express” (right), which was an express train with sleeping berths that was discontinued in spring 2015. ©kyoto railway museum
Sky Terrace
From the “Sky Terrace” on the third floor, visitors can see the Tokaido Shinkansen as well as trains running on conventional railway lines. ©kyoto railway museum
The “SL Steam” is a popular attraction
The “SL Steam” is a popular attraction where visitors can ride on passenger cars pulled by an actual steam locomotive for about ten minutes on a one-kilometer (0.6-mile) course. ©kyoto railway museum
Roundhouse Platform
The “Roundhouse Platform”, which is the oldest reinforced concrete structure in Japan, stores and displays a total of twenty steam locomotives including eight that can still run (three of which can be used commercially). ©kyoto railway museum

The “Railway Museum” in Saitama City, which is a famous spot in the Kanto Area

The “Railway Museum” is located in Saitama City, which can be reached from central Tokyo in about fifty minutes by train. The “History Zone”, which covers about half the area of the facilities, lets visitors learn of the history of Japan’s railway technology and railway systems from 1872, when rail transport in Japan began, until modern times. Thirty-six actual railroad cars are displayed inside the museum along with miniature trains for visitors to enjoy driving outdoors.

Class C57 steam locomotive
A “Class C57 steam locomotive”, which was manufactured in 1940. It is a quintessential passenger train of its time
The display of old and new Shinkansen bullet trains
The display of old and new Shinkansen bullet trains lined up next to each other is a magnificent sight
Visitors can enjoy driving miniature train cars
Visitors can enjoy driving miniature train cars here (separate fee required). The photo is of a miniature “Narita Express” car
Actual trains are impressive when seen from up close
Actual trains are impressive when seen from up close

Visiting a railway museum and seeing Japan’s railway culture and technology can change the way you see rail travel during your trip here. Please be sure to visit one of these railway museums, which are also popular with families. (Photo note: The photo at the beginning of the article is of the Railway Museum in Saitama City)