Railway Museums in Japan
Culture Travel Guide

10 Amazing Railway Museums in Japan

Railways are an important part of life in Japan. Rail arrived in Japan in 1872, in the golden age of rail around the world.

With over 100 years of trains and railways, there is a lot to talk about, especially with Japan’s development of state-of-the-art railways unlike any others found in the world. Because of this, you can find many amazing railway museums throughout the country.

These are Japan’s greatest scenic train rides you can experience!

Here are 10 of the best railway museums in Japan!

1. The Railway Museum in Omiya

The Railway Museum in Omiya, Japan
The Railway Museum in Omiya – a well preserved railway museum in Japan. Photo Credit: MaedaAkihiko at Wikimedia Commons.

Opened in 2007 by the rail company JR East, this museum has a huge number of used and retired train cars, locomotives, and even more modern shinkansen (high-speed rail) cars. Many of these can be entered or even viewed from beneath to see their mechanical workings.

You can also visit one of the largest dioramas in Japan, complete with model trains. The educational section of the museum also includes train driving simulators and other hands-on displays for people of all ages.

There is a rooftop garden and café where visitors can see real trains passing by as the museum sits between the tracks of the JR Takasaki Line and the Tohoku, Joetsu and Hokuriku shinkansen.

The Railway Museum is right next to Tetsudo-Hakubutsukan Station, which you can get to by taking a three-minute ride from Omiya Station by the New Shuttle.

Admission to the museum costs 1330 yen and some simulators and other activities will cost an additional fee.

2. Kyoto Railway Museum

Kyoto Railway Museum
This is arguably one of the best places to visit in Kyoto! Photo Credit: mendhak at Flickr.

This is one of the newest museums in Kyoto and the biggest railway museum in Japan. Formerly, this was a much smaller museum and with its expansion included53 railway vehicles, a giant railway diorama, steam locomotive rides, and a train operating simulator.

The first-floor features exhibits of many different railway cars as well as a huge diorama and scale models. This floor also features exhibits on the history of rail travel.

The second floor offers great views of the large first floor exhibits as well as many interactive exhibits, including train driving simulators. The third floor is the Sky Terrace, where visitors can relax and enjoy watching trains on the nearby JR and shinkansen rail lines.

Outside the museum building, you can visit the Roundhouse Platform, a turntable built in 1914 that holds 2 steam locomotives for visitors to explore. Nearby is a boarding platform for 10-minute steam engine rides that cost 300 yen for adults or 100 yen for children under 12.

You can eat at the café on the first floor or the restaurant on the second. The Kyoto Railway Museum is located west of Kyoto Station at the far end of Umekoji Park. It takes about 20 minutes to walk there from the station. Several buses go there from the main bus terminal on the north side of Kyoto Station.

3. SCMAGLEV and Railway Park

SCMAGLEV and Railway Park
Take a look at those high speed trains! Photo Credit: Morio at Wikimedia Commons.

This is the museum of JR Central. Visitors can enter many of the retired rail cars on display and view some beneath. A whole section of the museum is dedicated to Maglev railways.

There is also a display all about JR Central’s plans to build a high-speed rail from Tokyo to Osaka. The second-floor features exhibits designed to help children learn more about trains and railways, including many interactive ones and even simulators.

Be sure to take the time to visit the dioramas, too! Visitors can also get free English audio guides. To get to this museum, take the Aonami Line to its terminal station, Kinjofuto Station, then walk next door to the museum.

Entry costs 1000 yen.

4. Kyushu Railway History Museum

Kyushu Railway History Museum
Photo Credit: そらみみ at Wikimedia Commons.

The brick building that this museum is housed in used to be the Kyushu Railway Head Office. Here you can find railway cars, railroad tools, and railroad uniforms on display.

The museum’s simulator allows visitors to try driving a train on the route from JR Mojiko Station to Nishi-Kokura Station. There is also an outdoor Mini Train Park with realistic equipment, including a miniature train you can drive along double track with signals.

The Kyushu Railway History Museum is located only a short walk away from JR Mojiko Station. Entry for adults costs 300 yen and 150 yen for children aged 4 to junior high school students, and free for children under 4.

5. Tokyo Metro Museum

Tokyo Metro Museum
Photo Credit: Rs1421 at Wikimedia Commons.

The unique entrance of this museum is the first thing that stands out about it: it perfectly recreates a major Tokyo subway station, though notably without the crowds a real one has.

This museum takes you through the history and operation of the Tokyo subway, including restored cars from ma eras and accompanying mannequins dressed in the style of the times.

There is also a replica central command station, several train models, and a cross section of a boring machine of the same kind that dug out the subway. Train simulators are very popular exhibits, but even more impressive is the Metro Panorama, a diorama of central Tokyo that displays the entire Tokyo Metro line.

It has catchy music and a voice over guide that has four shows every day. The Tokyo Subway Museum is located at Kasai station on the Tokyo Metro Tōzai Line. Admission for adults costs 210 yen and costs 100 yen for children.

6. Usui Pass Railway Heritage Park

Usui Pass Railway Heritage Park
Photo Credit: くろふね at Wikimedia Commons.

This unique museum is dedicated to the historic Usui Toge Railway, which was the steepest train line in Japan with a gradient of 1 in 66.7 amid very mountainous terrain.

The Usui Toge operated between 1893 and 1997, and was Japan’s first rack-and-pinion railway. In 1912, it became part of Japan’s first electrified trunk line. There were 26 tunnels and 18 viaducts on the 11.2 km railway line.

The Culture Village features an exhibit of many artifacts from the railway’s operation, the Railway Display Hall, including several locomotives, and the Railway Museum building features a scale model of the whole Usui Toge railway.

Poppo is a miniature train that gives children rides around the park. The EF63 Electric Locomotive Driving Experience is the chance to actually drive a real EF63 locomotive down a 400-meter track and back. This requires a reservation and a day-long training class in advance.

For those who still want to ride a train, there are a few rideable models that require less time investment. Usui Pass Railway Culture Village is a few minutes’ walk west of Yokokawa Station. Entry costs 500 yen for adults. Rides have a separate fee.

7. Keio Rail-Land Railway Museum

Keio Rail-Land Railway Museum
Old trains are on display at Keio Rail-Land that were used by Keio! Photo Credit: Rsa at Wikimedia Commons.

This great railway museum offers great train simulators as well as themed play areas for children alongside educational exhibits and retired rail cars.

The scale-model dioramas are fascinating to watch. A trip here is a great addition to a trip to Tokyo for the whole family.

To get to Keio Rail-Land Museum, take the Keio Line from Shinjuku Station to Tama-Doubutsukoen Station, changing once at Takahatafudo Station. Admission costs 310 yen.

8. Ome Railway Park

Ome Railway Park
Photo Credit: Saigen Jiro at Wikimedia Commons.

This open-air railway park in Tokyo makes for a pleasant afternoon visit. The park is home to eight steam locomotives, two electric train cars, and the front car of a Shinkansen train from the 1960s.

The two-story building on the grounds takes visitors through the history of rail in Japan with an educational photo display as well as a coin-operated model train display. Ome Railway Park is located 15 minutes’ walk from Ome Station.

Admission costs 100 yen. The park has been undergoing renovation at the time of this writing, so please check its status before planning a visit.

9. Tobu Museum

Tobu Museum
Inside the museum, you will see old train car like this one! Photo Credit: Yaguchi at Wikimedia Commons.

Tobu is one of the oldest railway companies in Tokyo. This museum focuses on the company’s trains and buses. Besides the displays of trains, buses, and even skyway gondolas, there are also train simulators and other interactive exhibits, including a model train diorama that is a delight to watch.

The museum is very popular with children, especially the No. 5 locomotive near the entrance that routinely toots its whistle and spins its wheels for visitors.

To get to Tobu Museum, take the Tobu Skytree Line to Higashi-Mukojima Station, then head right from the ticket gate and turn right at the street. The museum is located underneath the train tracks.

Admission costs 210 yen for adults and 100 yen for children.

10. The Railway History Park in Saijo

The Railway History Park in Saijo
This is one of the best attractions you can visit when visiting Ehime! Photo Credit: Kzaral at Wikimedia Commons

This museum is architecturally impressive, with arches of rough-hewn tree trunks and many glass windows. Inside you can find a shinkansen engine and a locomotive engine on prominent display.

There are also many scale models of other trains and several moving dioramas. You can find the Shinji Sogo Memorial Building, a memorial to the life of the man who pioneered the construction of Japan’s high-speed railways.

The Railway History Park is located right next to Iyo-Saijo station on the JR Yosan Line.

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