If he could, S would just move in there. It’s a paradise for my vehicles-and-especially-trains-loving-5yo. Let me take you to a place from my boy’s dreams. Let me show you a bit of the Railway Museum from Saitama! A museum you just don’t want to miss if you love trains.
A museum and a learning centre full of trains and everything train related. Original train cars and engines, models of trains, more models of trains and fantastic railway dioramas bigger than my living room! And as a cherry on top – educational centre spreading over three floors. A place that will take you on an amazing journey, as far as your imagination can go. Come, join the S’s joyride!
The main and the biggest area shows the history of the railway in Japan. But the way it shows it is simply mindblowing! There are more than 30 original train cars and engines – from the very first steam locomotive operating in Japan in XIX century till the modern era started by Shinkansen trains. There are steam and electric locomotives, electric and diesel railcars, passenger carriages, imperial carriages used by the Emperor and his family, and freight vehicles.
You can see the trains from above, from below and from inside (some of them). There are also two passenger carriages outside the hall serving as a lunch area.
On the upper gallery, there are train models, photos, badges…
…and a perfect view on the centre part of the exhibition!
You can find some smaller dioramas around the museum but there is also a specially designated room with a truly gigantic diorama with several operating trains. There are even three cameras attached so you can follow the train’s paths on the far side of the diorama.
On the opposite side of the building, there is a learning zone spreading over 3 floors. It has plenty of hands-on activities, explaining principles and mechanisms of trains and railways, using real parts and models. Unfortunately there are no English descriptions so we couldn’t figure out some of the shown things, nevertheless, we still enjoyed a lot this part and dived into most of the proposed activities.
At 12:00 and 15:00 a special show takes place. The C57 steam locomotive blows a whistle and is turned around on a turntable. The whistle is quite loud so better prepare your kids.
There is also a tiny playground outside. I was a bad mom and concealed this fact from my older two. They were exploring the museum with their dad and by the time they got outside it was late-lunchtime.
But V had time of his life sliding on a Shinkansen slide, driving a metro car and getting completely crazy on those wobbly little Shinkansen.
There is also an inner play room for youngest children where V played with his dad while N, S and me were checking out the souvenir shop.
And the cherry on top (literally!) – an outdoor gallery on the roof with a view of passing trains.
We spent a whole day in the museum and still weren’t able to try everything. There are also train simulators, a small train taking visitors to the library, mini-trains in which kids can have a ride – all of this we missed. Hopefully, we will visit Japan again so we should get yet another try!
Practical information (as of April 2016):
* opening times: 10:00 – 18:00, closed on Tuesdays and the New Years holidays
* getting there: New Shuttle Train from JR Omiya Station; there is also a car parking
* ticket prices: 1000 yen adults, 500 yen elementary students and older, 200 yen preschool age children age 3 and up, children under 3yo enter for free;
* lunch facilities: there are restaurants in the museum (the food was nothing special) and plenty of space to eat your brought in food or bento boxes bought in the museum
* official web site: Railway Museum