Kyoto Railway Museum
Neon genesis of trains.
In the middle of the large Umekoji Park, not far from central Kyoto station, you will find the Kyoto Railway Museum, an exposition of historical and modern trains, plus so much more.
Anime and manga fans, rejoice: as some of you may know, Japan boasts a Neon Genesis Evangelion-themed shinkansen…
The museum is a little pricier than average when compared to the others in the city, but you may find it’s worth the difference. Starting in March 2019, it’s quite convenient to get there, too, with the opening of a new station, Umekoji-Kyotonishi station, right nearby.
Among the past and modern trains, you can see the evolution of engines, the technology behind them and explore detailed replicas of old train and subway stations. There is even staff playing the roles of station masters from different decades, all adding to an immersive experience.
On the grounds, you’ll be able to go inside historical train cars and conductor’s cabins, like that of the first shinkansen (bullet train), and its grandfather, the 1948 high-speed steam locomotive.
The museum is especially great for families. There are plenty of themed playgrounds for children, large models that allow you to control miniature trains and virtual reality games simulating different situations to test your skills as a train operator (you’ll even get to wear a proper uniform). Kids and adults alike can challenge themselves through interactive games explaining engines, their mechanisms and function.
The museum is a day-long experience that takes you through every train component you can think of (even the evolution of water fountains and toilets), oftentimes in unexpected ways.
Anime and manga fans, rejoice: as some of you may know, Japan boasts a Neon Genesis Evangelion-themed shinkansen (rolling stock retired in May 2018 and replaced with a Hello Kitty version). The railway museum also displays the first bullet train. The 500 Type Eva (500 series 521 Type n.1) was released in 1996 and at that time its top speed of 300 kilometers per hour made it the fastest train in the world. What’s more, a permanent Neon Genesis exhibition here displays action figures, paintings and life-size models of the anime characters, as well as documentaries about the conception, building and opening of the type 500 to the public.
While there are many playgrounds within the museum, one, in particular, stands out. Kids can access the center of a large diorama of a city with miniatures of moving trains. This allows them a closer look and, one could imagine, makes them feel a little like Godzilla.
Amid all the steampunk-like attractions, you’ll find restaurants and cafés, but more importantly, on the expo’s third floor you can enjoy a large terrace with an almost 360-degree view of Kyoto: an ideal spot to relax
If you’re interested in buying some unique souvenirs, the museum’s store sells items impossible to find anywhere else. You don’t need to buy a museum ticket to access the store.