The Railway Museum, Saitama City, Japan

saitama railway museum
Despite my lack of Nihongo speaking and reading abilities, one thing that makes my travel across Japan quite manageable is the vast network of trains and the website called Hyperdia.

I mentioned on my previous blog post that in order to experience India one must experience its railway system, I guess same analogy perfectly fit for Japan, though by comparison the latter has by far better, cleaner and safer system.

If you been to Japan, whether it is for work, study or tour, chances are you will find yourself familiarize with the term “JR” which stands for Japan Railways. There are six Japan Railways Group currently operating across the country four main island of Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu. The surrounding region around the capital city of Tokyo is under JR East.

In order to appreciate further the impact of the train system to Japan’s historical, cultural and technological advancement, a visit to the Railway Museum at Onari, Saitama City is a must.
saitama railway museum
saitama railway museum
saitama railway museum

Run by JR East(East Japan Railway Culture Foundation), the Railway Museum is like a one stop shop to everything railway related locally and abroad. For an entrance fee of 1,000 Yen for Adults, 500 yen for students and 200 yen for toddlers,payable using your Suica card, the two storey building is divided into seven section, depending on the era and the purpose of the train.
saitama railway museum

The first section is called the “Dawn of Railways in Japan” which exhibits locomotives used in Meiji area (1868-1912). The trains are classic and fit for royalty and high ranking officials.
saitama railway museum
saitama railway museum
saitama railway museum

The second section is called “Nationwide Railway System” which showcase the train used on the later part of Meiji era to Taisho era (1912-1926) and marked the nationwide expansion of the railway system.
saitama railway museum
saitama railway museum
saitama railway museum

The third exhibit is called “Start of Limited Express and Commuter Transport”, showcasing a collection of pre-World War II trains.
saitama railway museum
saitama railway museum
saitama railway museum

The fourth exhibit is called “Mass Transport and Electrification”. Train lines underwent technological advancement after World War II, where local lines started to fully use electricity and power transmission.
saitama railway museum
saitama railway museum

The fifth exhibit introduces trains that can run on both AC and DC currents. This section is called “Nationwide Limited Express Network”.
saitama railway museum
saitama railway museum
saitama railway museum

The one that really exemplifies Japan’s train technology can be found at sixth exhibit called “Birth of Shinkansen”. It is a culmination of various works, study and development of railway system since Meiji era, a technology that was developed out of a very simple requirement- to solve the passenger congestion problems along Tokaido line (Tokyo-Kobe route).
saitama railway museum

Shinkansen and I share a special connection.

I work in the Telecommunications field and part of my job is to ensure that every passaeger will have uninterrupted service whenever they use their mobile phone inside the bullet train. So you can only imagine, how much hours I spent analyzing, studying each and every turn of the bullet train.
saitama railway museum
saitama railway museum

The final section exhibits the train used for cargo transportation called “Freight Transport by Rail”.
saitama railway museum

Not only the outer decor of the train evolves throughout the years, it is also amazing to see the interior- how the chairs evolves from elegant wood to practical plastic.
saitama railway museum
saitama railway museum
saitama railway museum
saitama railway museum
saitama railway museum
saitama railway museum

The upper floor of the museum is a good spot for a top view shot of the various train below.
saitama railway museum

It also contains a brief timeline explanation of the railway system development, display of train related materials and the one I like the most is how the train drivers uniform evolve from Meiji era to the present.
saitama railway museum
saitama railway museum
saitama railway museum
saitama railway museum

Children at the museum not only run around to go inside the trains but their dream to operate one is fulfilled at the miniature simulation and for those who wanted to design and built one, a short course inside the lab can be attended.
saitama railway museum
saitama railway museum
saitama railway museum

Another aspect as to what makes railway system in Japan more inspiring is how much the citizen respect and appreciate the people who work in the rail system in general. I explore this country alone, I always tell my family and friends at home not to worry about me as long as there is a nearest train station then I am safe.
saitama railway museum

Apart from providing easy commute, for me the best part of taking the train in Japan whether I’m on my way for a day hike, a customer meeting or out of town trips is the chance to pullout a paperback from my bag and enjoy the quietness inside the train. I can’t remember how many novels I finished reading inside the train, I read regardless whether I’m standing or sitting.

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17 thoughts on “The Railway Museum, Saitama City, Japan

  1. Wooooow!! Great blog post! Living in the United States I’m always jealous of those living in Japan, and Europe too, for their amazing and extensive network of trains, high speed and local. Here everyone is expected to have a car (unless maybe you live in a big city like New York, Chicago, or Washington D.C.), or fly if you plan to take a long distance trip. The one rail network, Amtrak, we have over here is very old and slow. Not at all 21st century.

    This looks like a fantastic museum. Great pictures as always.

    1. thanks Scotty!
      you are right, it makes such a huge difference having a convenient and extensive network of public trains for travelling.
      this is one of the main thing that I will miss the most about Japan, particularly I don’t like the hassle and the procedures that comes with taking airplanes.

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