Yokohama is known for gorgeous views, multiple ramen museums (both cup of noodle and the infamous ramen museums are situated there), and not to mention Chinatown. There is a hidden gem in the midst of the usual Yokohama tourist destinations and is well worth a visit.
The Hara Model Railway Museum has only been opened since 2012, but has been welcoming visitors from all over the world. Why Yokohama? It is where Japan’s first railway started. Once entering the museum one is in awe of all the different kinds and models of trains from all over the world. It is the largest collection of model trains in the world that is open to the public.
Amazingly, this is all from one person’s private collection – Nobutaro Hara. An engineer by trade whose love of model trains started at the age of 13, and he has been collecting them ever since. Out of all his 6,000 model trains, only some 1,000 is on display. From steam locomotives to the current bullet trains, all are lovingly cared for and displayed at this site.
The piece de resistance is the large diorama – one of the largest in the world called the “Ichiban Testumo Park”. A faithful recreation of a French railway station all in miniature. No detail is spared, down to Parisian cafes, laundry hanging in homes, business men running around – it is quite a sight to see.
The whole gamut of model trains are on display – from hanging trams to multiple trains speeding around the tracks and all are coordinated to music. The light even changes from day to night creating the perfect ambience as if one was really in France. One could spend hours at the diorama alone, as evidenced by the wide open stares of all the children near the display. A definite must see!