Translated by Jay Issei Karslake
See, Touch, Experience! Fun Learning At The Kyoto Railway Museum
Written by ayu
In this article you can find an overview of the displays, activities, official characters, souvenirs, pre-sale tickets and discount tickets for the newly opened Kyoto Railway Museum, where a world of train experiences awaits you!
A Learning Spot for Everyone to Enjoy
The Kyoto Railway Museum is a museum that is a 20 minute walk from Kyoto Station and is adjacent to Umekoji Park. Inside the museum, many real life train cars are displayed. At this new museum you can have both a fun and educational experience; you can learn about the history of the railways, how train cars are structured and built, and what makes them so appealing to people of all ages.
The Kyoto Railway Museum is also meant to be a place of both recreation and relaxation; they aim to make it a learning spot that everyone can enjoy through looking, touching, and experiencing. Let's see what the museum is like!
Photo courtesy of: Kyoto Railway Museum
The main building of the Kyoto Railway Museum has three floors. There is a real railway running near the museum as well, so not only can you appreciate the displays within the museum, but also see a functional railway in action as well. And in the outdoor facilities there are displays of important fan-shaped garages and steam locomotives.
Even if you are not a railway fan, you won't be bored spending the entire day at the Kyoto Railway Museum. Now let’s take a look at the main building from the first floor up.
Main Building 1F: Display Floor on the History of Railways in Japan
The first floor of the main building is a spacious atrium, where you can learn about the history of railways (particularly in Japan) from the start to present day trains, the structure and merits of railways, and the appeal of trains based on actual train cars and hands-on models and displays.
Experience Inspection Work on a Full Scale Train Track?
On the first floor stands a full-scale replica of an actual train track and, depending on the day, you can take part in a track maintenance inspection. On the track running parallel to it you can run a railway bicycle just like the ones used for actual inspections.
Main Building 2F: Hands-on Displays, Restaurants and Rest Areas
The colonnade structure of the second floor makes it possible for visitors to look down on the first floor atrium and see an aerial view of the trains on display there. This floor features many hands-on displays, restaurants and benches where visitors can take a quick break. This floor makes it even easier for guests to spend the day enjoying and learning about trains.
This hands-on display is of an automatic ticket gate - but with the works inside exposed, making it possible to watch what happens when you put a ticket in until it comes out the other side of the machine. Usually the tickets move at an extremely high speed, so this ticket gate has actually been slowed down by a third. This is definitely a must-see display that can only be found in Japan!
A Real Railway Diorama
On the 2nd floor is a gigantic diorama of a functional railway display depicted at a 1/80 its actual size, complete with ‘train attendants’ driving the trains. The diorama is 30 meters wide and 10 meters long; this recreation was made so that viewers can watch the entire railway system and its actions without missing a single aspect of the journey. The whole journey of these model trains takes about 15 minutes to complete.
Learn About Railway Safety Through Hands-on Models
This is the safety feature corner of the museum; here you can learn about the various structures and systems in place that protect the train and its passengers, as well as view how these systems work via a monitor set-up. By actually using the systems in this display, it's possible to not only experience the safety features of the trains in person, but also learn more about their functions overall. The interior of this model is, however, for children only, to allow them to actually enter the world of trains themselves.
Main Building 3F: Observation Deck to View Functioning Trains and Famous Places
On the south side of the main building’s third floor is a bright and wide outdoor observation deck known as the Sky Terrace that has lots of greenery and flowers on it. From this deck you can not only see as trains on the JR Kyoto Line and the JR Tokaido Shinkansen run by, but you can see temples, five storied pagodas and even Kyoto Tower.
Outdoor Displays 1: Try Being a Train Driver on a Steam Engine
Recognized as a Japanese national treasure, this fan-shaped steam locomotive garage is where you can go to watch train cars being dynamically moved about - similar those from Thomas the Tank Engine. Steam locomotives that contributed to the transportation system in Japan from the Meiji period to the Showa era are displayed here. This display is actually rather important as these trains and this garage system are exceptionally rare in modern Japan. If you stand in the middle of the garage you will find yourself surrounded by trains; an amazing feeling even for those that wouldn’t call themselves train fan. There's also a photo service here wherein you can take commemorative photos while standing in front of an old train. You’re sure to feel more like a train driver here!
Photo courtesy of: Bunkyo Studio
Outdoor Displays 2: Ride a Functional Steam Locomotive
This is the SL Steam Model, a popular hands-on display in which visitors can ride in passenger cars being pulled by an actual steam locomotive. As this train runs on a course through a greenery-rich park adjacent to the museum, it’s quite a peaceful experience and one which changes in view from season to season.
Museum Gift Shop
Even if you don't visit the museum, you can still access the gift shop, and there are many people who come here strictly to purchase train souvenirs.
This is the museum’s official character, Umetetsu, a bird known for its bright red child-like cheeks, bedhead wings and small eyebrows.
You can buy traditional Kyoto-style snacks that are wrapped in original packaging from the Kyoto Railway Museum in the shop as well.
The made in Japan chopsticks that come in a wide variety of train shapes are priced affordably. We recommend them either as a souvenir for yourself or for your friends. Other than the chopsticks, be sure to check out the wide variety of railway goods as well as the many original goods from The Kyoto Railway Museum!
A Friendly Museum for Travelers
The Kyoto Railway Museum’s official webpage and the pamphlets inside the museum are all available in Japanese, English, Korean, and both Traditional and Simplified Chinese. The hands-on train driving simulator on the second floor of the main building has both a Japanese and English version, making it possible for those that cannot speak Japanese to take part in this activity as well.
How about checking out this brand new museum for yourself? It's quite close to Kyoto Station and a fabulous place to see, touch, and experience new things.
Special News: Helpful Ticket Information
The Kyoto Railway Museum is a very popular facility, so if you're going to buy a ticket on the day of your visit, there is a chance that you will have to line up in a huge line. That's why we will now introduce to you som important ticket information that will help you save on time and money.
You can buy "pre-sale museum entry tickets" at Seven Eleven stores nationwide and at the green ticket gate (Midori-no-madoguchi) of JR West Japan stations, so that you don't have to line up on the day of to enter the museum.
There are discounts for groups of 20 or more and for people who have proof of disability.
It's also possible to get a ticket with 10% off the original price if you display one of the one day train passes sold by the Kyoto Municipal Transportation Bureau. If you are coming to Kyoto station round trip by subway or by bus from Kyoto station, Hankyu Omiya station, or Keihan Nanako station, be sure to use the convenient discount.