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5 stations to visit at The Railway Museum in Omiya (Part 2)

5 stations to visit at The Railway Museum in Omiya (Part 2)

All aboard to Part 2 of my experience at The Railway Museum (鉄道博物館) in Saitama! In case you’ve missed it, here is Part 1 where I obsessed over the Rolling Stock Station which is an immersive playground that housed 36 real-life railcars.

 

For Part 2, I will be sharing about the other four stations—History, Job, Science, Future—that you'll have to stop by in your next visit to The Railway Museum.

 

History Station: A blast from the past

(Image credit: JR Times / Sue Lynn)

 

What’s a museum without some well-preserved artefacts from the past? With tons of historical materials, photographs, videos, and even set-up replicas from the bygone days of Japan’s railway, history buffs will easily find the History Station to be their favourite stop apart from the Rolling Stock Station.

 

(Image credit: JR Times / Sue Lynn)

 

The History Station is located on Level 3 of the museum’s South Building, and it consists of seven exhibits depicting the different stages of Japan’s railway development, spanning from the dawn of the railway age when the first railway in Japan started operation in 1872, to the maturity and diversity of Japan’s railway of today.

 

(Image credit: JR Times / Sue Lynn)

 

One of the artefacts that piqued my interest was the replica of the ticketing counters of the olden days that were sometimes brandished by a striking red gate. Today, if I need to check the train timings or reserve a seat on the train, I would simply refer to the Google Maps or Hyperdia to check for timings and make my train bookings online, but back in those days and not until a few decades later, you’d need to refer to the train timings and ticket pricings on catalogues such as the one seen above when purchasing a train ticket in person.

 

(Image credit: JR Times / Sue Lynn)

 

You can also expect to find old railway maps, brochures, promotional posters, and ticket stubs issued by East Japan Railway Company (JR East) when it was still part of the Japanese National Railways before it was privatised in 1987. As a fan of all-things vintage, I was particularly drawn to these trinkets and memorabilias and really wanted to get my hands on them myself!

 

Job Station: Be a train driver for a day

(Image credit: JR Times / Sue Lynn)

 

Ever wondered what it’s like to be a train conductor on some of the busiest train lines in the world? Many kids (and adults, too!) would immediately flock to the train simulators at the Job Station in hopes of fulfilling their childhood dreams of being a train driver and conductor, and there’s usually a long queue waiting patiently for their turn to tinker with the control boards and have a sense of what happens behind the wheel.

 

However, train drivers and conductors aren’t the only people responsible for keeping the trains running so smoothly. Japan’s railway owes it to the efficiency of their operators, engineers, maintenance workers, specialists, as well as every other staff in railway stations to keep trains running punctually and safely, and your experience from the moment you pass through the train gantries all the way to your seats a comfortable and seamless one. And this station is the right place to learn all about it.

 

(Image credit: JR Times / Sue Lynn)

 

At the Job Station, you’ll get to experience for yourself how precision teamwork done by these professionals keeps railways running safe and on time, as well as getting a closer look at the various tools and equipment used in usual operations. This immersive station will guarantee to keep you in awe as you learn about both the tough responsibilities and fulfillment of keeping Japan’s railway functioning in seamless clockwork.

 

Science Station and Future Station: Embracing the now, envisioning the future

(Image credit: JR Times / Sue Lynn)

 

The fascination of Japan’s railway doesn’t just stop at the operations of staff. When you’re riding the trains in Japan, have you ever thought about how these trains can run so smoothly, safely, and punctually without incident? Or have you ever imagined how riding trains will be like in the future?

 

It is easy to take these questions for granted, but at the Science Station and Future Station, the answers will be revealed to you as you discover the hidden secrets behind Japan’s railway and envision the future of railways in these exhibits.

 

https://www.photojoiner.net/image/cWE3vUIj

(Image credit: JR Times / Sue Lynn)

 

While the Science Station focuses on educating visitors on the pros and cons of past and present railway technologies and scientific discoveries, the Future Station allows visitors to get creative with their own imaginations about how society would evolve along with the future advancements and sustainability of railways. Apart from dioramas, you can also create your own avatar as you embark on a future rail trip!

 

Museum Shop: Take me home, railway roads~

(Image credit: JR Times / Sue Lynn)

 

Now that we’ve covered all of the stations in the Railway Museum, the one last stop that you’ll have to make is none other than its gift shop right back at the museum’s entrance! This is the best place to pick up that Hayabusa toy that your nephew has been bugging you to get, as this shop has all the souvenirs and train memorabilia of JR East’s railway that you can ever think of. 

 

(Image credit: JR Times / Sue Lynn)

 

The official merchandise brand of JR East is called Trainiart, and apart from toys, you can also find branded stationery like notebooks, postcards, clear folders, ink and stamp-pads, as well as trinkets like pin badges, magnets, as well as snacks all under their belt! Personally, I bought a few SUICA-related memorabilia as well as rolls of train washi tape to add to my ever-growing collection of souvenirs. Unfortunately, the museum was about to close as I made my final purchases—otherwise, I would have stayed a little longer, and my wallet a little lighter.

 

Other facilities and safety measures in place

(Image credit: JR Times / Sue Lynn)

 

Besides these five stations and its souvenir shop, the Railway Museum also has other facilities and activities such as the Cultural Gallery, Railway Diorama, libraries, miniature shinkansen car rides, Kids’ Plaza, and viewing restaurants—promising an entire day of fun and learning for both children and adults. Talk about a museum with a never-ending joyride! 

 

While many of us aren’t able to travel to Japan anytime soon due to the global pandemic, the Railway Museum assures the public that they are taking preventive measures against the spread of coronavirus during these unprecedented times. In lieu of COVID-19, the following changes are in place in the museum until further notice:

  • Operating hours at The Railway Museum are shortened.
  • No same-day on-the-spot ticket sales are allowed. Tickets to the Railway Museum need to be purchased in advance from participating convenience stores (konbini).
  • Some train simulators are not in operation.

 

(Image credit: JR Times / Sue Lynn)

 

With that, I hope that I’ve managed to convince your inner densha otaku to embark on this rail-ly enjoyable trip to the Railway Museum in Saitama. If you’re not in Tokyo but happen to be in West or Central Japan, you can also check out the Kyoto Railway Museum in Kyoto, as well as the SCMAGLEV and Railway Park in Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture respectively.

 

The Railway Museum (鉄道博物館)
Address: 3-47 Ōnari-chō, Ōmiya-ku, Saitama-shi, Saitama 330-0852
Nearest station: Tetsudō-Hakubutsukan Station
Opening hours (Museum): 10am–5pm (Daily)
Opening hours (Shop): 10am–6pm (Daily)
Admission fee: ¥1,330 (Adults), ¥620 (High school students and below), ¥300 (Children aged 3-6)
Admission fee (Simulations, etc.): Varies
Tel: +81 48-651-0088

 

Header image credit: JR Times / Sue Lynn

 

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