As I promised, I would like to discuss about various train museums in Japan. Japan has been famous as one of the countries to count on trains as their main transportation. So no wonder if trains get a special place for Japanese people, which is proven by numerous amount of train museums on that country.
I actually want to talk about all those museums in one short article. But it seems like a shame. Because each museums have their own feature and uniqueness, so it would be a shame to not discuss in details. So now I will focus first on the train museum in Tokyo (which must be the main tourism destination city in Japan). And the choice goes to the Railway Museum at Saitama.
Wait, Is Saitama in Tokyo?
Honestly and actually, Saitama is not in Tokyo. Saitama is actually a name of perfecture located next to Tokyo. But since it is only 15-30 minutes away from Tokyo city center and is still a part of Greater Tokyo, then I can pretty much wirte Railway museum as a museum in Tokyo. It is the same like Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea which are using the name “Tokyo” but those are actually located on Chiba prefecture (excuses excuses..)
Railway Museum (Tetsudo Hakubutsukan) was built on October 14th, 2007. This museum is operated by East Japan Railway Culture Foundation, a non-profit affiliation from East Japan Railway Company or JR East which is a branch company of Japan Railway (JR).
So wonder if at this museum there are exhibitions related to JR East and JR. Before transforming into Railway Museum, this museum was named as Transportation Museum and was located on Chiyoda distrcit, Tokyo. But that museum was then closed at 2006 to move to Saitama to be Railway Museum. At 2012, Railway Museum officialy became the museum-sister of National Railway Museum in England which is said to be the biggest train museum in the world.
What Are Interesting in Railway Museum
Generally, this 42.500 square-meters wide museum consists of 2 zones: history zone and learning zone. The history zone it the largest zone of the museum as it is more than a half of museum’s total area. There are collections explaining the history of trains in Japan which was started on Meiji period up to this very moment.
The total of collection are 35 kinds of trains (including 6 royal trains) and various train miniatures at this museum. That doesn’t include various photo collections portraying the development of trains from time to time.The history zone takes up the whole first floor, and then it is divided into 7 big themes:
- Dawn of Railways in Japan. At this area, there are many locomotives from Meiji era, which marks the beginning era of trains in Japan.
- Nationwide Railway Network, is a display area of locomatives and train wagons from Meiji era to Taisho era. At those times, railways were starting to reach throughout all the area of Japan.
- Start of Limited Express Services and Commuter Transport. This area has plenty locomotives from the era before World War II (Showa era). At this time, the limited express train and commuter trains were starting to be known.
- Mass Transportation and Electrification. During the World War II and after, the trains in Japan were developing very rapidly. At this area, there were various types of diesel trains and electric trains.
- Nationwide Limited Express Network. This is where the many kinds of trains from 1950’s are. Guests are welcomed to see all the collections of limited express operating throughout Japan.
- Birth of Shinkansen. Do you wanna know how was the shape of Shinkansen at the beginning? At this zone, there are shinkansens from series 0 to 200 which were the first generations of shinkansen.
- Freight Transportation by Rail. At this area, there are many kinds of freight trains from various eras.
Those were just the history zone. For the learning zone at this museum, there are library and other interesting facilities such as video booth and Train Driver Experience Zone. And there are many other interesting facilities and collections to see at this museum, such as the train diorama (which is said to be the biggest train diorama in Japan), indoor and outdoor children playground, and of course, souvenir shop.
What Must Do At This Museum
I would like to recommend some fun activities to do at this museum:
- Buy the ekiben (special train bento) available at this museum area. Best way to enjoy the ekiben is by eating it at the observation area on third floor while enjoying the views of shinkansen passing by for several times a day.
- Some trains were designed with walkway area underneath, so guests can take a closer look at the mechanism under the train. If you are curious about the train mechanism, let’s get closer and observe.
- Love the steam train? There is a special show twice a day. It is when the steam train is switched on and is blarring a particular sound. That attraction is one of the most popular attractions at this museum, so don’t miss out the moment.
The Railway Museum
Address: 3-47 Onari-cho, Omiya-ku, Saitama-shi, Saitama-ken 330-0852
Operational hour: 10.00-18.00 (last ticket sale at 17.30), close in Tuesday and new year holiday (December 29th – January 1st)
Ticket price: ¥200* (3 years and older), ¥500* (students), ¥1000* (adults)
Access: Keihin-Tohoku Line from Ueno Station in Tokyo, or Saikyo Line from Shinjuku Station or Ikebukuro Station, get off at the South Exit in Omiya Station. Walk straight to New Shuttle, and get off at Tetsudohakubutsukan Station. Railway Museum is about 1 minute from that station.
And that is all the informations regarding Railway Museum. I hope there are Travelers who have the chance to visit this museum while travelling to Tokyo. I hope it is useful!
* Prices may change unexpectedly
* All pictures were taken through creative commons. There are no editting from the original pictures. Name credits are based on the username on flickr/wikimedia.
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