Saitama Railway Museum
Do you know where you can find the most developed railway on the planet?
The answer is not the name of a nation or city, but a museum: Saitama’s Tetsudō Hakubutsukan (translated in English as “The Railway Museum“, also known as “Teppaku”) holds the first place!
What’s special about Saitama’s Railway Museum?
This structure is what represents Japan among the world’s museums to join with the family.
A modern, wide pavilion holds a huge exposition ranging from the first steam locomotives to the newest Shinkansen (bullet trains) and, getting on board, is obviously possible!
One can learn much about railways, whoever is at least fascinated by this subject will surely have fun here.
In the museum, among many other things, steam locomotives structure, pantograph function and high speed systems prior to the development of Shinkansen are well illustrated to the visitor.
The main attraction is undoubtedly the diorama, laying on a 200m2 surface, with over 1400 meter-extended rails where you can stare at H scale models running at “relatively” high speed.
Several shows are displayed during the day, small trains with their lights and sounds make everything quite realistic!
How to get there
The museum is a few minutes from Ōmiya Station, in Saitama Prefecture.
This is easily reachable from Tōkyō by using the Keihin-Tōhoku, Saikyō, Shōnan-Shinjuku, Takasaki-Utsunomiya lines.
For those coming from the Tōhoku region by Shinkansen, Ōmiya is on the way to Tōkyō.
Once in Ōmiya, take the Ina line (also known as New Shuttle) and get off at the first stop, which is Tetsudō Hakubutsukan Station.
You can access the museum by using your IC card (like Suica, Icoca, Pasmo etc) for 1000 yen.
Have a look at the official website: http://www.railway-museum.jp/en/
My impression of Saitama’s Railway Museum
As you probably have already guessed, I am a railway fan.
When I entered the “Teppaku” for the first time I was so excited!
I was very surprised that I could enter the structure by using the IC card: more than in a museum, one feels like entering a real station.
In the railway history section some old locomotives are shown together with a passengers car, built with rare original materials: here you can step on and take pictures.
On the second floor, where many models are displayed, I got a clear idea about the huge variety of Japanese trains: Japan Railways’s ones (JR) have remarkably changed during the years.
Around the diorama section many elementary students were gathering: it was probably a year-end school trip. I remember I felt very jealous, wishing I could have had such lessons too as a kid!
The diorama show is actually fascinating, with train shapes running in that wide mini-landscape.
From the observation deck on the third floor, with a nice bunch of luck, I could see the Tōhoku Shinkasen, the Jōetsu Shinkansen e the New Shuttle passing a few minutes from each other!
When I visited the museum a rare car of Shinkansen E5 car was being displayed: a part of the latest Shinkansen technology, not yet launched, was right there before my eyes: I will never forget the feeling of surprise!
The museum hosts a railway simulator too: several joysticks and handles make you understand how complicated is to actually ride a train, even if local.
By entering the cabin one instinctively feels respect for those who can carry these machines on at high speed.
I recommend to visit the railway-shop. I couldn’t resist to buy something, since some gadgets are pretty unique here.
At Saitama’s Railway Museum I learned many things I didn’t know about this world:
I think it represents a perfect spot for a family trip, a must for railways fans and a pleasant surprise for those who found this article interesting, even a little!