Honk! Have an exciting steam locomotive experience! If you are looking for a chance to ride a train led by a working steam locomotive, and to see retro trains stored in a retro rail yard, Umekoji Steam Locomotive Museum is the place to go! Umekoji Steam Locomotive Museum is located next to Umekoji Park, where Kyoto Aquarium exists in it. The rail yard, registered to the modernization heritage section of important cultural properties, and active locomotives are must-see places not only for railway fans but for everyone. It’s a spot where anyone can enjoy watching and even riding steam locomotives! The museum is continuously being developed with a renewal plan in Spring 2016!
Honk! Real whistle sounds and steam bring excitement! A 1km SL trip in 10 minutes is just for 200 yen!
You will be more excited by whistles after getting through the entrance, which was formerly a station. Your first attraction is SL Steam Liner!
SL Steam Liner is operated 3 times a day: 11:00, 13:30, 15:30. (As of Apr 2014. Check the information board at the entrance and listen to announcements!) Also additional operations are available to meet high demands basically on holidays.
4 kinds of trains are running. You can ride one of C61-type #2, D51-type #200, C62-type #2 and 8620-type #8630 depending on the term. The fare is reasonable: Adults 200 yen (high school students and above) and children 100 yen (age of 4 and above).
The most exciting point is a crossover near by the loading platform. Feel the full power of steam locomotives by listening to whistles and watching steam!
Departing with Whistles and Steam! You will be blown by a nice wind as windows on the roof has no glasses. The train goes back and forth on a 1 km line dedicated for SL"s in 10 minutes. The scenery is great with an active JR local line on one side, and a park view on the other side. Your travel is now calm and comfortable in contrast to the loud noise of the train at a departure. let’s enjoy it and imagine being in the old days.
The Finale of Operations of the Day: Turnaround
After the last operation, you will have an opportunity to see how it goes back to the rail yard. It’s a great experience to watch the turnaround moving the large body back to its home. 20 rails are radially running around the turntable. SL moves from the main track to the table, turn, and goes to another place such as a train yard or a waiting zone. Here in Umekoji Steam Locomotive Museum, they turn trains more than 360 degrees for guests to fully enjoy them. This is far more than the necessary angle, 15 degrees. Not only railway fans but everyone will be surprised to see the massive locomotive, close to 100t weight, is moving gently on the table. Turnaround operates twice a day. Wait for the second show if you miss the first one. In just 15 minutes, the car comes back again to the table after being washed, to proceed to a train storage or a waiting zone outside. These operations are scheduled during 15:40 and 16:40. don’t miss it!
The Beauty of Trains in a Radial Storage! They are continuously maintained today!
The radial storage is a rail yard for steam locomotives and It’s obviously in a radial fashion. In addition to the beauty of the storage itself, train cars look even holy with their magnificent look. In this warehouse, 19 cars of 17-type steam locomotives are stored. 7 of them can still work and this condition is pretty rare in the country.
The radial storage in Umekoji Steam Locomotive Museum is the oldest reinforced concrete structure among all existing train car storages. It was registered to national important cultural properties along with an electric crane on the ceiling and supporting rail lines. The rail yard is used for train maintenance in the present day. Cars of SL Yamaguchi C57- / C56-type and SL Biwako C56-type #160 are inspected, fixed and displayed here when they are out of service. I had an opportunity to watch one of the maintenance tasks. A car was lying deep in the storage without enclosure and being fixed.
The entrance and the exhibition center were converted from a wooden station! let’s learn about SL!
The building for entrance and an exhibition center is formerly Nijo station’s building. It’s as retro as the radial storage!
This old station building, built by a private railway company Kyoto Railway Co,. Ltd. in 1904, is registered to Kyoto city’s named cultural important properties. It has been the oldest wooden station when it was active. After that, the building is moved to the museum in 1997 to be refurbished.
The exhibition includes an education corner that displays how SL"s wheels work, a video corner, a real scale operation console and so on. Kids love to touch many real instruments in a cockpit and with the sound of whistles they will be able to feel like being a motorman.
Umekoji Park is Under Expansion for Kyoto Railway Museum’s opening. A Tram Car, a Playground and a Cafe is Open!
Kyoto Railway Museum will be open in spring 2016. The closed Modern Transportation Museum in Bentencho, Osaka, and this museum will be unified to it. The museum is undergoing construntions, including the refurbishment of Umekoji Park next to the museum. A large playground Suzaku Yume Hiroba (Suzaku dream ground) and a park cafe was built in the park. Light snacks like pizza, drinks, soft cream and Yatsuhashi ice cream are served at the cafe. Yatsuhashi is Kyoto’s traditional treat with sugared beans in a rice sheet. Moms will love here because they can enjoy cafe time watching their kids playing nearby!
If you look close on playground equipments in the park, You’ll notice they are carefully designed in Kyoto style — they have cherry blossoms, maple leaves and Taikobashi bridge on the surface. Also there is a unique jungle gym with red ropes in a cone shape. As it shakes, even an elementary school student may feel hard to climb on. Have a challenge!
Moreover, trams operate from the north side of Suzaku Yume Hiroba to Shiden Hiroba (tram ground) on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. Trams were beloved transportations in Kyoto back in 1895. Now they are reconstructed with Li-Ion batteries to run around the park. SL"s and trams. Two different retro experiences in a day!
Going Further to Kyoto Aquarium!
How did you like Umekoji Steam Locomotive Museum with full of retro experience? It’s a rare place where we can ride a steam locomotive and even watch it being turned. It is recommended to everyone. Although the coming Kyoto Railway Museum’s opening in 2016 is worth waiting, for those who love the atmosphere of retrospective, this museum is already a fantastic place to visit. Take a short trip to there to know how attractive those trains are and feel an ambience of retro structures!
It takes about 10-minute walk from Umekoji Steam Locomotive Museum to Kyoto Aquarium. Trams are available on weekends and holidays. The aquarium became a popular sightseeing place in Kyoto soon after it opened. You’ll love its open-air atmosphere and fish and animals displayed in a unique Kyoto style. It’s a must-see spot along with Umekoji Steam Locomotive Museum. Please refer to some of my past articles by the MEMO mark below for more information on Kyoto Aquarium and Umekoji Park.
Umekoji Steam Locomotive Museum - Opening Hours: 10:00-17:00 (Ticket office close at 17:00)
Closed on Wednesdays
Admissions: Adults 410 yen (high school students and over), Children 100 yen (age of 4 and over)
SL Steam Liner: Adults 200 yen (high school students and over), Children 100 yen (age of 4 and over)
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