Umekoji Steam Locomotive Museum
The steam locomotive museum offers something a little different from the many temples, gardens and art collections found in the city. This museum is dedicated to railways in Japan; in particular to the history of steam locomotives. Whilethe rail network now buzzes with its collection of high speed “Shinkansen” trains, steam engines were very important in the country’s development.
The museum was opened in 1972 to celebrate 100 years of rail travel in Japan, and is owned by the state railway company Japan Railways. The characteristic front station building is the old Nijo station building. The largest wooden constructed station building in Japan, it was in use until 1996 when the rails were switched to the elevated tracks of the Sagano line. Behind this is a large locomotive house and turntable, built in 1914 and also in operation until the recent past.
The station hall offers the history of the steam locomotive in Japan and the expansion of the railway network. Youngsters will enjoy some fun, interactive exhibits for play.
The highlight is the collection of steam locomotives. The permanent collection is made up of 19 fully restored locomotives, all of which were built in Japan. There are also temporary exhibits of locomotives from other museum collections. One steam train operates daily for a short excursion (check times in advance with the museum).
There are plans for some significant expansion of the museum, with an additional hall to be added, focusing on the post-steam era of railways and locomotives in Japan.