Kyoto Railway Museum

As our train approached Kyoto station this morning I spotted a steam train pulling a collection of open sided passenger carriages. Also at that moment Alex asked to return to the train museum at Nagoya to play with their ticket gate exhibit. 

I suggested that we change our plans and go to the Kyoto Railway Museum instead. 

It was a fairly long and hot walk from the main Kyoto station to the museum, though the last part was through a pleasant park. The steam train reappeared, obviously just shunting passengers up and down a straight track. The smell of burning coal and hot oil evoked memories of the many tourist steam engines in my past. 

Ultimately we didn’t catch that steam train, but we did spend hours in the huge museum. There was an excellent range of displays, different enough from the SCMaglev and Railway Park in Nagoya to make the dual visits worth it. For starters, Kyoto’s had a Series 500 Shinkansen on display, along with a huge roundhouse of steam locomotives. 

There were also excellent working displays on all sorts of operations, including signalling and points, electric and diesel engines and boom gates. And fortunately for Alex (and unfortunately for us) a working ticket dispenser and gate. He printed 27 tickets and spent over half an hour doing circuits of the gate. It drove us mad!

Kyoto, Kinki Region, Japan

Takayama Showa Museum

We were walking around Takayama after searching for a birthday cake for B when we came across this unprepossessing museum. From the outside you would think it a rundown little Japanese toy store, but inside is a remarkable collection of old objects, many still working. 

After you buy the ticket and head behind the curtain you enter a recreation of a street of shops from the middle of the Showa Era which ran between 1926 to 1989. The shops contain a range of goods from across the era, including working black and white televisions displaying old programs. 

There are old video games (some running on commercial emulators) and even ancient pachinko machines, which shoot balls up where the then take a path downwards scoring points. A little less bright and noisy than the current generation of gambling machines. 

A great addition to the collection of Takayama history museums! 

Takayama, Gifu Prefecture, Japan

Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology 

From trains to automobiles. After lunch and shopping at a local shopping centre we returned to Nagoya Station and transferred to the Meitetsu Line for a quick trip to Sako. 

Toyota started of as a manufacturer of weaving machines before moving into cars. The museum is located in their original factory.

There is a hands on technology play area where you can discover principles such as wind resistance, braking and gears for yourself. Feeling like an Doctor Nefario on an electric scooter. 

The weaving machinery looked fascinating, but we had very limited time so headed quickly to the automotive area. 

The huge, mostly operational factory machinery runs demonstrations like metal pressing, robotic welding and assembly. Though we missed out on the Toyota factory tour we probably saw more here, if the previous Mazda tour was anything to go by. 

Well worth a visit for anyone interested in machinery, textiles or cars. 

Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, Japan

SCMAGLEV and Railway Park

I think we’ve found Alex’s ultimate amusement ride: a ticket gate. 

As I’m on the ultimate railway journey around Japan it makes sense to visit a railway museum. Inside, apart from fascinating explanations of Shinkansen technology, its next generation magnetic levitation train, a massive working HO scale layout and various older locomotives and carriages, is a working railway ticket machine and gate. And to use it costs nothing! 

Alex was also fortunate to get a drive of a Shinkansen simulator, which is decided on a lottery system. 

To get to the museum it was another ride on the Aonami Line, same as yesterday. 

Really worthwhile a visit, we all enjoyed the experience. 

Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, Japan