Romancing the rails at Odakyu’s Romancecar Museum

ByJason Gatewood
Apr 25, 2021

Romancing the rails at Odakyu’s Romancecar Museum

It’s an open secret that one of the reasons I enjoy living in Japan is that public transportation is held in high regard and promoted by the people as a matter of social, security, and cultural importance. Most people think of the Shinkansen “bullet train” network of high-speed rail routes, however, it only serves as the backbone supporting a much larger system, and there is an impressive amount of conventional long-distance, commuter, and local lines. In the Greater Tokyo metropolis, they are virtually indistinguishable from most cities’ metros and subways. One of the major operators of service here is Odakyu (Odawara Electric Railway), which starting from its main terminal in the Shinjuku Station complex, operates service to Odawara and the Fujisawa/Enoshima areas in Kanagawa Prefecture, along with another branch to Karakida in the western Tokyo suburbs. There’s a connection at Yoyogi-Uehara station to Tokyo Metro’s Chiyoda Line. Some trains have direct service to/from the subway and out the other end onto JR’s Joban Line all the way into Chiba Prefecture on the other side of Tokyo. (Seriously, be careful not to sleep on the train!) There’s a high degree of cooperation and coordination between train companies here. It is a real treat to see how each one has a slightly different approach to what essentially adds up to getting Tokyoites from point A to B each day. Odakyu being one of the largest and profitable transport companies in Tokyo, has a unique history and story to tell. For that reason, they decided to create a museum to show it off… But wait, why is it called “Romancecar Museum?”

The ‘Lovebird Express’…?

Romancecar comes from Odakyu’s service mark for its limited express lines and the specific trains that serve these routes. One can book a train from Shinjuku, all the way to Hakone, a popular resort destination that is the site of many ski resorts in the wintertime, the gateway to both Fuju-Q Highlands amusement park (known for having some of the wildest roller coasters in the world) and Mt Fuji and the Five Lakes nature reserve area during climbing season. Another route will take you to the Enoshima part of the Shonan beach zone. Operating since 1957, the Romancecar’s bright red livery, panoramic windows, and the “loveseat” style 2×2 seating arrangement onboard has probably been a part of many a couple’s getaway date, and hence the name. And these trains are known for one other thing: You may be lucky enough to score seats in the forward-most seats where you can have a driver’s view of unfolding scenery ahead since the driver is seated on top of the train here. Just about everyone in Japan knows about these trains, and Odakyu wasn’t wrong in making this the starting point of their historical storytelling in their new museum.

The Museum

Located right next to Ebina station in a portion of Odakyu’s Ebina Yards, the museum itself is a multimedia-packed 21st-century homage to rail transport. You will definitely find examples of historic rail cars, including every vintage permutation of the Romancecar. Since the actual museum is connected with tracks to the railway system outside, a rotating selection of antique rail cars is scheduled to be shown. In addition, there’s a historical films viewing area, where various milestones in Odakyu’s history is shown, a huge diorama and model railroad setup, where the entire route of Odakyu’s service area has been modeled, and a rooftop viewing area (remember, the museum is right between a working rail yard and one of their busiest train stations– the perfect rail fanning spot for pictures!) Of course, you’ll also find the requisite museum shop (Trains) and on-site restaurant for snacks while train spotting (The Clubhouse). Best of all, the whole thing is FREE to enter!!

Getting There

⚠️ Due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation, you must go online and make a reservation first!

Odakyu Romancecar Museum
🧭 Address: Megumi-machi 1-3, Ebina, Kanagawa
🕙 Hours: Every day, 10 am ~6pm
🎟 Fees: Free
🚉 Access: Ebina Station OH-30
📞 Phone +81 462-33-0909
💻 Web:

About the author

Jason Gatewood subscriber

Our Tokyo based collaborator is a tech nerd, Japanophile, train nut, and a veritable fountain of information on Japan. His current goal is to watch Evangelion and actually "get it", sing every permutation of "Hotel California" at any karaoke gathering, ride every bullet train line, and sample all varieties of ramen throughout Japan. Catch more of his musings at ·

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