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Photo By: Lucio Maurizi
Region
Kansai
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Kyoto
Population
2,644,331

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. 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.

Photo by: Lucio Maurizi The oldest mass-produced, Japanese Columbia type tank locomotive (1903).

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.

Highlights

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.

Photo by: Lucio Maurizi A figurine replica of a scene from Neon Genesis Evangelion.

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.

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Things To Know

Hours

Every day except Wednesday. 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. (no admission after 5 p.m.) Special opening days during holidays: the museum remains open Wednesdays during national holidays.

Fees

Age 18 and older: ¥1200;  University and high school students: ¥1000; Junior high and elementary school students: ¥500; Children: ¥200. The museum also offers a tour on a steam locomotive. The tickets for this attraction can be purchased in the boarding area. The ticket for the steam locomotive is ¥300.

Official site

For more information about access for visitors with special needs, or visitors with young children refer to the museum’s website  http://www.kyotorailwaymuseum.jp (available in Japanese, English, Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese Chinese, and Korean).

How To Get There

By bus

From Kyoto station: take City Bus 205 or 208 to the Umekoji-koen-mae stop (roughly 10 minutes). From there it takes approximately a 3-minute walk (follow signs directing you to the museum). Alternatively, you can take the Keihan Kotsu Kyoto Bus number 2, 14, 26, 26B, or 28A to the Umekoji-koen-mae stop.

*Please note that the Kyoto City Bus and the Keiahan Kyoto Kotsu Bus operate under different companies, so confirm you’re boarding the right bus company even though the number may match.

Where To Stay

naokonoza Bettei Umekoji
  • Shimogyo-ku Sujyaku Uchihata-cho 8-33 Kyoto-Shi, Kyoto 600-8843
  • 6.7/10
  • 0.3 km
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Kyoto Umekoji-an
  • Shimogyo-ku Waki-cho 14-49 Kyoto-Shi, Kyoto 600-8834
  • 9.2/10
  • 0.3 km
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Guest House Kyoto Inn
  • Shimogyo-ku Sujakushokaicho 15 Kyoto-Shi, Kyoto 600-8841
  • 8.9/10
  • 0.3 km
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8INN Kyoto Machiya Villa
  • 13-27 Nishisuya-cho Shimogyo-ku Kyoto-Shi, Kyoto 600-8833
  • 0.3 km
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