Monday, 11 April 2011

The Railway Museum, a Holy Place for Railfans

Main hall, the history zone

There are several railway museums in the Tokyo metropolitan area. The largest one is "The Railway Museum", which is located in front of Tetsudo Hakubutsukan (The Railway Museum) Station on the New Shuttle, Saitama Shin-toshi Kotsu Line, Saitama City, a northern suburb of Tokyo.

This museum was originally opened as "The Transportation Museum" by the Japanese government near Kanda Station, on the Chuo Line, in down town Tokyo in 1936. The Transportation Museum was closed in 2006 due to the aging of its facilities. Then, in 2007, most of its showpieces moved to the newly-opened Railway Museum, which is sponsored by the East Japan Railway Foundation.

The Railway Museum exhibits historic items, such as “Class 150”, Japan's first steam locomotive (photo at the bottom) manufactured in the UK in 1871, “Class De 963” Japan’s first electric car manufactured in 1904 and “EMU 0 series”, the first Shinkansen (bullet train) manufactured in 1964. Plenty of attractions, such as train driving simulators and a large model railway diorama, are also exhibited. They are very popular among boys, girls and railfans.

When I was a child, I often visited the Transportation Museum with my uncle, who was also a railfan. My favorite exhibition was an automatic door on the electric car. I pretended to be a train conductor and got absorbed in switching the door all day long. The same attraction is still in use in the Railway Museum. Time really flies, doesn't it?

The Railway Museum, it is a holy place for railfans in Tokyo.

Japan's first steam locomotive, Class 150, manufactured in the UK in 1871

More information about the Railway Museum: