Opened in 2016 as the Kyoto Railway Museum. and with a budget of some 7 billion yen, the West Japan Railway Company has transformed the former Umekoji Steam Locomotive Museum into a brand new and modern facility.
Located in Shimogyo-ku in central Kyoto, the museum has five exhibition zones and an impressive collection of trains and other railway related exhibitions.
The three story main hall houses an incredible display of trains and carriages. You can enter many of them and see them from several angles as well as from underneath with the highlight being a JR500 bullet train.
A historical roundhouse that is noted as a important cultural property by the Japanese Government is another must see at the museum. This historic shed houses a collection of steam locomotives. Here visitors can watch skilled tradesmen restore and perform maintenance work on some of the interesting vehicles.
There are over 50 pieces of rolling stock on display at the museum with most of them restored to look their best. The collection includes steam locomotives dating back to 1880, diesel and electric locomotives. Also amoung the collection are several Shinkansen bullet trains including some of the very first examples dating back to 1964.
The museum is home to the former Nijo Station that was moved to the museum. This beautiful building houses a wonderful gift shop full of everything a train enthusiast could ever wish for.
One of the world’s largest working model train dioramas is another must see at the museum and there is also the amazing opportunity to try your hand at driving a train in one of the realistic simulator exhibits. But for the proper rail experience a visit to the museum is not complete without taking the one kilometre ride on a real steam locomotive in the museum grounds.
The museum is usually open six days a week and usually closed on a Wednesday. The Kyoto Railway Museum is around a 15 minute walk west from Kyoto Station and is located close to the Kyoto Aquarium. Several busses leave the station and stop at a museum bus stop.