Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Railway Museum, part II

Ahh, the Railway Museum in Saitama.  It doesn't matter if you are 4 or 94, this place is fun!!!
Above is the area they call the History Zone.  It is jam-packed with real trains.  There are old wooden trains all the way to bullet trains (Shinkansen).  You can walk through them, over them and even under them.
This train is cut open so you can see the guts, or take those stairs down and have a look under the train.

Along the wall of the second floor, above the History Zone, is a long display area.  There are also a few rooms filled with many collections of train travel history, mostly in Japanese.  There are plenty of hands-on experiments there as well, so even you cannot read Kanji, you'll have fun.
It is very common to see people asleep in the trains commuting to and from work, but this guy asleep in one of the display trains.
There are a couple of play areas exclusively for kids under the age of 3.  This one is the Kids' Space 1.  The kids on the floor are playing with model trains that run on plastic blue tracks.  There is also a small Shinkansen in the back there that they can climb all over.
There are several trains that you can go under.There are hands-on displays all throughout the museum.  This particular one was neat because it's the wheels and you control how fast they go.  If you don't understand how to do it (the directions are in Japanese), a worker is usually nearby and will happily help out.

There are Learning Halls on the third and fourth floor of the museum.  The halls are full of various experiments.  The one above allows you to raise the contacts to touch the wires above.
This guy is working the switchers on a model.  There is another one where you can control life-size switchers.

For 200-yen you can drive one of the miniature trains around a track outside stopping, or not, at three different stations. 
This is either dusk or sunset in the diorama.  The narrated show cycles through an entire day.

The above is my attempt at editing.  I was trying to show the different times of day.  The last time I was there they had benches set up up front for kids 3 and under.  It was very cute.  No matter what language the kids spoke, they all spoke train!  It wasn't as busy yesterday and we went to the 10:20 show.

You will know when it is noon at the Railway Museum.  They do a show featuring this steam locomotive that rotates in that circle.  The show begins with a the train whistle that can be heard throughout the museum.  If you miss that show, don't worry, it happens again at 15:00.

There are lockers when you first enter the building where you can store your stuff, including several big lockers that you may be able to store a stroller in. 

 You may want to hang on to your coats if you intend to do the miniature trains, the miniature Shinkansen, or if you want to eat in the Friendly Train.  All of those things are outside.


Inkspots said...

How cool! Was this very hard to get too? I have a few boys that would absolutely love this.

Dollars to Yen said...

It's very easy to get to. Take a train to the Omiya Station. There will be signs all over the place for the Railway Museum. You will take a train called the "New Shuttle" that leaves from Omiya. The first stop is where the Railway Museum is.

Katie said...

I seriously want to go here! Have you been on a weekend? I wonder if it's extra packed compared to the week day.

Ethan & Alisa said...

My Question is HOW do you get to Omiya Station?
I have only takent he train to and from yoko ~ ikego and ... a few other spots (like bunko and shinzushi .. oh and kamakura)...
Anyways, We would LOVE to do this! Looks so fun!
Great pics!!

Dollars to Yen said...

It's very easy from Ikego... it just takes a long time. The easiest way will be to use and use Zushi as your starting point. From Zushi, you can often get a direct train to Omiya with no transfers. It takes between an hour and a half and two hours to get there.

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