With hundreds of different trains available all over Japan that range in different shapes, sizes, and colors, there is no doubt that are many train enthusiasts or train otakus that have been admiring these brilliant mechanical machines for many years.
To the joy of many people all over Japan (especially the train enthusiasts), the Kyoto Railway Museum has recently opened which allows people with the opportunity to observe these machines up close and personal – a train otaku’s dream!
Umekoji Steam Locomotive Museum
Before the now standing Kyoto Railway Museum, it was formerly known as the Umekoji Steam Locomotive Museum which was opened on October 10, 1972, by the Japanese National Railways to commemorate the centennial of Japan’s railway system. The museum then was inherited by JR West when the Japanese National Railways was split into regional companies in 1987.
Kyoto Railway Museum
The Kyoto Railway Museum or Kyoto Tetsudou Hakubutsukan (京都鉄道博物館) was officially opened to the public on April 29, 2016, during the 1st day of this year’s golden week. The concept of the museum is to become the hub of railway culture that progresses with its community.
The museum was developed on a 30,000 square meter site and exhibits more than 50 locomotive and train cars inherited from the previous Umekoji Steam Locomotive Museum and the Modern Transportation Museum.
Not only is the museum a dwelling place of various trains, but it is also a place of rest and learning. The visitors to the museum can discover, touch and experience the vastness of railway history including a walkthrough of railway safety and technology. There is also a guided tour as well as workshops to take part in.
The museum is located 20 minutes by foot from the west of Kyoto Station’s central gate. It is open every day (except Wednesdays and New Year’s) from 10am to 5:30 pm with general admission fees at:
- 1,200 yen for 18 years old and above
- 1,000 yen for University and High School students
- 500 yen for Junior High and Elementary students
- 200 yen for children 3 years old and below
To really make the most of your visit, make sure you check out the below 3 fun things to do to make your day of railway exploring even more fun and exciting!
Operated by an attendant, the large diorama display measuring 30 and 10 meters in width and depth features model trains that are 1/80th of the scale of actual trains. Visitors to the museum can experience the railway system up close along the tracks as the diorama replicates the facilities and rail yards of the actual tracks.
Visitors can experience riding the SL Steam’s passenger cars pulled by actual steam locomotives which takes about 10 minutes for the 1-kilometer roundtrip. The SL Steam ride is a popular activity that is offered by the museum and was carried over from the previous Umekoji Steam Locomotive Museum. Boarding tickets for the SL Steam ride can be purchased alongside the admission fee. Tickets are 300 yen for Senior High School students and above and 100 yen for Middle School Students and below.
Last but not least, one of the best activities at the museum is the Operating Simulator experience where those who are lucky enough get to experience the simulators used by train operators in training. They are also introduced to the bag and work tools used during operation and are given the opportunity to wear the uniform as well.
As mentioned above, the Operating Simulator comes down to the luck of the draw as the opportunity is only given to those that have been chosen out of a lottery. But you never know your luck, so to participate in the lottery, just approach the information center located on the 1st floor of the main building to get yourself into the draw and receive your numbered ticket.
Both kids and kids at heart will most definitely enjoy all there is to see and experience at the Kyoto Railway Museum. So if you’re on vacation and have the time to travel to Kyoto, do not miss out on the opportunity to really explore and learn more about these amazing machines!
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