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Friday, April 29, 2016

All Aboard The New Kyoto Train Museum

I like trains. I always have. I was born in London, England and used to stand mesmerized atop an arched stone bridge not breathing as clouds of smoke poured from the smokestacks of a goods train or passenger train barreling through the countryside.

Being three years of age or younger, that may well be an idealized memory, but I loved trains so much back then that my dad got me an old O-scale set for me to play with.

I had finally built my own model railway set-up featuring a small 1950s-era town, and a coal mine in a corner, and some 12 switches to other tracks built up in my house - finished it the day before actually - when a fire struck my place about nine years ago.

That 100+ year-old house with the solarium that held my trainsets, and eight aquariums was badly damaged during the fire, but the most damage occurred from smoke damage to the wood I had used to build the train table. The fish survived, the trains survived, but the train table did not.

Oh, I also lost a lot of souvenirs brought back from Japan. I had a lot of stuff… still do, but I had a lot more.

In Japan - it was such a thrill for me to ride the intra-city trains, the Tokyo subway loops (no one ever tried to push me into a train car! LOL!), and stare out the window as the countryside disappeared while I rode in a shinkansen bullet train.

Anyhow, here in Toronto - as a four-year-old, a TTC employee allowed me to stand beside him in the driver’s compartment and work the throttle with him as we brought the train in from Royal York to Islington station, at that time the last stop on the line west. Kids can't do that nowadays - at least not without someone getting fired.

Nowadays… nothing… I have gone to a rail museum out near Guelph… but really, despite having a 10-year-old who has no interest in such cool nerdiness, my trains, track, buildings et al sit in corrugated boxes in my basement.

But I still get that itch, whenever I see a train…

On April 29, 2016, the Kyoto Railway Museum has its grand opening - a 20-minute walk west of Kyoto-eki (Kyoto Station).

The museum covers 30,000 square meters of floorspace on what was once the Umekoji Steam Locomotive Museum, and holds 53 trains that covers Japan’s history of rail travel… everything in there from steam chuffers to shinkansen.

Not just a resting place for rusting out locomotives, the trains are well-restored and all nice and shiny. The museum provides visitors with a good history of the railway in Japan, with its interactive exhibits and artifacts.

If Kyoto is too far away for some of you, there are two alternatives:
  1. Railway Museum in Saitama north of Tokyo. The Railway Museum is located just beside Tetsudo Hakubutsukan Station, which is reached in a three minute ride from Omiya Station by the New Shuttle (¥190  one way). The New Shuttle ride is not covered by any JR passes except the JR Tokyo Wide Pass.
  2. SCMAGLEV and Railway Park in Nagoya. SCMAGLEV and Railway Park is a few steps from Kinjofuto Station, the terminal stop on the Aonami Line. The one way trip between Nagoya and Kinjofuto stations takes about 25 minutes, costs ¥350, and is not covered by the Japan Rail Pass. Trains depart approximately every 15 minutes.
Image above taken from, who have lots of great photos from their pre-opening visit there.

Andrew Joseph

1 comment:

  1. I have always loved trains. My favourite memory is of taking my eldest daughter to the Science and tech museum in Ottawa. She was quite small and found the locomotives quite as awe inspiring as the dinosaurs at the nature museum.