Tokyo’s Railway Museum: See Japan’s Locomotive History

ByMichael Stigall
Jul 24, 2023

Tokyo’s Railway Museum: See Japan’s Locomotive History

A good many visitors to Japan have been known to utter out loud, “There sure are a lot of trains in Japan!” …And they wouldn’t be wrong! We happen to have the world’s highest per capita train ridership and are home to The world’s busiest station. It is not an overstatement to say that rails built modern-day Japan, and finding out just how true this is and how that came to be is pretty interesting, not to mention it makes for a good outing by yourself or with the family.

So what can we find inside? The Railway Museum (鉄道博物館 Tetsudō Hakubutsukan) opened on October 14th, 2007. It was built and operated by the East Japan Railway Culture Foundation, a non-profit affiliate of the East Japan Railway Company (JR East), as a successor to the original museum that used to be located just east Ochanomizu station under the JR tracks near Akihabara.

Inside you’ll find restored and preserved 30 railway cars covering everything from steam engines to the Shinkansen “Bullet Train.” Not to be missed are the train cab simulators which are every bit what you’d face if you were to pilot a JR train, down to the last switch and dial. There are an extensive array of railway dioramas so finely detailed you’ll look for your particular station to see if they’ve captured it right. This is a proper museum outside the interactive bits, so there’s also some brain food for those who want to know about Japan Rail from its inception in the late 1800s through artifacts and books, video booths, and a research room. Rounding out the amenities, there’s a multi-purpose hall, a gallery balcony overlooking the Joetsu and Hokuriku Shinkansen lines, a cafeteria and children’s play area, and the museum shop. Best of all, you can download a great interactive app from the website, which will guide you through the museum in English. It is a wonderful experience for anyone, especially those of us who are train conductors at heart. 

Getting There

Access: The Railway Museum is located next to Tetsudo Hakubutsukan Station on the New Shuttle Line, one stop north of Omiya Station.
Hours: Every day except Tuesdays, 10 am-5:30 pm; Closed December 29~January 1 for New Year’s holidays.
Admission: Adults 1,330 yen, Students 620 yen, Children (Preschool children three years and older) 310 yen

Shimogasa, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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