Be prepared with that notebook! If you weren’t a trainspotter before you came to Tokyo, well, you certainly might be after! Trains are the big feature of the Tokyo Transportation Museum and it’s quite right too, for take away the trains, the tracks and the stations and any fool can see that there would be nothing left of Tokyo at all! Train companies even own a majority of the department stores!
Laid out on three floors, the Tokyo Transportation Museum is an excellent way to spend the odd hour or two. Trains are on the first floor, and the real-life exhibits include the Imperial carriages used by Emperor Meiji and Japan’s first steam locomotive (1872). The one absentee is the bullet train, which is represented in scale model form only.
If you fancy being a train driver, you can make your dream come true by stepping into the life-size and remarkably life like train simulator. The one stipulation is that you have to be punctual, this could be difficult for some, but aside from that it’s easy. Inspired, you might even then feel moved to go and examine the old signalling equipment just around the corner. Also in a room to the side, have a look at the station signs and advertising posters.
Things of a nautical nature are on the second floor. Scale models trace the history of ships and shipping from the days of the 18th century sailing vessel to the colossal super tankers of today. Motor vehicles are up here too, including Japan’s first set of automatic traffic lights and a 1964 Mazda three-wheeler!
Planes go with trains and automobiles; these are on the third floor. Climb into the fuselage of a 747, belt yourself tightly into the seat and, that’s it. Nothing happens. Just as well, for as if to put you off, close by there are several glass cases full of loose nuts and bolts, dismantled jet engines and various bits relating to the landing gear.
Staying on the third floor, have a nice day, and try to smile back, perhaps even give a wave or two, when you catch the eye of the well-groomed, jakassing mannequins proudly modelling, just for you, the ever-changing styles of the air steward’s uniform. Then off on a slight tangent, in the far corner, there are some bicycles and rickshaws.
Open: 9:30 am – 5:00pm Tuesday to Sunday (ticket office closes at 4:30).
29th December to 3rd January (inclusive).
Adults: 310 yen
Children: 150 yen.
Tickets are purchased from the vending machine just outside the main entrance.
How to get there
Take the JR SOBU LOCAL LINE to AKIHABARA STATION. Leave the station via the “Electric Town” exit and then look for a sign indicating the museum. In case you miss the sign, the museum is situated next to and slightly to the right of the railway bridge that runs over Chuo Dori Avenue.
Tel: 03 3251 8481
Suggested amount of time needed
1 – 1½ hours