Odakyu’s Romancecar Museum

ByMichael Stigall
Sep 27, 2023

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 supports 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 significant service operators 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 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 s

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 to Hakone. This popular resort destination 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.

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 the unfolding scenery ahead since the driver is seated on top of the train. 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 is a multimedia-packed 21st-century homage to rail transport. You will find examples of historic rail cars, including every vintage permutation of the Romancecar. Since the museum is connected with tracks to the railway system outside, a rotating selection of antique rail cars is shown. In addition, there’s a historical film viewing area, where various milestones in Odakyu’s history are shown, a considerable 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!!

Romancecar Museum

Address: Megumi-machi 1-3, Ebina, Kanagawa
Hours:   10 am ~5 pm, closed Tuesdays.
Fee: Free!
Access Station: Ebina Station
Phone: +81 462-33-0909
Website: https://www.odakyu.jp/romancecarmuseum

Cfktj1596, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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