29 Apr Kyoto Railway Museum – Kyoto with kids
Temples and shrines may be fun for a little while but when in Kyoto with kids, this attraction will be sure to please! The Kyoto Railway Museum is quite new to the city, opening on April 29, 2016. In the Museum you will find 53 trains from various dates. There is a simulator, diorama and lots of interactive displays, as well as a kids play space and a running steam locomotive.
Getting to the Kyoto Railway Museum
We had taken a bus from Kinkakuji to Kyoto Station so decided to walk to the Railway Museum. It is just over 20 minutes and the walk takes you through Umekoji Park. We stopped to let Fletcher play at a small playground amongst overgrown grass. A lady was helping children make daisy chains. The surrounding area was very lush and green. Closer to the museum entrance was a larger playground.
The Kyoto Railway Museum can also be reached by a short bus ride from kyoto Station.
After entering, you first come to the museum promenade. This area is designed to represent train station platforms. On display are three trains including Japan’s first bullet train, The O-series shinkansen, launched in 1964.
The promenade connects to the museums main building. The first floor contains retired trains showing the history of Japan’s railway. There are various steam locomotives and models from the shinkansen series. Among them is the Dr Yellow, a special shinkansen used to test tracks and the whole system.
Also, part of the exhibition is dining and sleeping cars. Some trains and cars can be entered to view the interiors and you are even able to walk underneath one.
The second floor houses the museum’s interactive exhibits. Here you will find the driving simulator, a large railway diorama and multiple displays showing operations. We all entered the diorama room from the wrong side, walked in and thought we could just view it. An attendant came and told us we had to leave. After exiting and walking around to the other side, we saw a long queue of people waiting to enter. So, we didn’t get to see the full diorama running. Make sure to check the times and be ready to line up.
Fletcher waited as patiently as a four-year-old does to go on one of the hands-on displays. When it was his turn, he rushed to get on and tripped over, cutting his hand. Of course, the night before I had cleaned out our backpack and hadn’t put the first aid kit back in. Four-year-old, bleeding hand and no band-aids. He didn’t enjoy much else after that.
There are a lot of hands-on displays that kids would enjoy as well as adults. There is also a play area for children with track and trains and the front end of a large play shinkansen. It was here a lovely mother handed over a band-aid from her bag.
After the incident, we made our way outside and I completely forgot there was a third floor to the museum. From the third floors open-air deck, you can get a wonderful view over Kyoto along with the train lines in front. I have seen numerous photos of the view with bullet trains passing by. Very disappointed we missed out on the opportunity ourselves.
There are a number of steam locomotives located outside the museum. The main attraction is the turntable in the centre. This rotates the trains and changes their direction. Visitors are able to board a steam locomotive for an extra fee. We came outside just as a steam train was ending a trip. It entered the turntable and slowly turned while being noisy and blowing smoke. We were too late for a ride but both boys loved watching it. We walked along the sheds, viewing the different steam locomotives.
The former Nijo Station house
Exiting the museum is done through the museum shop, of course. However, this one is located within the former Nijo Station house. A beautiful wooden building from 1904. Relocated in 1997 from nearby Nijo Station, it is the oldest of its kind in Japan.
After exiting the museum, we located the bus stop just outside the grounds. Regular buses make trips to and from Kyoto Station. You could also walk to Kyoto Station.
Open hours: 10:00 am – 5:30 pm (no entry after 5:00 pm)
Closed: Every Wednesday (except holidays) and Dec 30 to Jan 1.
Admission fee: Adult 1,200 yen. Children 200 yen – 1,000 yen.
Official website: kyotorailwaymuseum