On this the 50th anniversary of the Shinkansen (bullet train), October 1st 2014, it seems fitting to introduce one of Saitama’s top attractions. Japan’s second largest train / Railway Museum, in Omiya, 鉄道博物館. It is known locally as Omiya train museum and as Saitama railway museum nationwide. Whatever you chose to call it is a really good place to visit with a mixed audience.
There really is something for everyone, even if you aren’t “that into” trains. It is particularly a great place for a day out with young children, boys and girls, as there is plenty to do and see. It is commutable from Tokyo, so it appeals to tourists and international families looking for something to do in the Kanto area with kids.
Saitama Railway Museum
There is so much to say about the Railway museum, but I will try and keep it as concise as possible! One thing I would particularly like to highlight up front is, it is really worth buying the annual pass. Especially if you live in Saitama or Tokyo with young children who are into trains.
Kids / Play areas at the Railway Museum
The ground floor has two outdoor areas. The Teppaku Hiroba can be accessed at the back of the history zone. They have a nice selection of play equipment for the kids including the popular shinkansen slide. There is also a “lunch train” there; a train that is a rest area, that you are allowed eat food in.
MINI TRAINS and MINI SHINKANSEN
The other outdoor area is to the left of the entrance zone. It boasts the popular mini trains that for 200 yen for upto 3 people, anyone over 6 years of age can operate themselves. However, you need to arrive early in the morning to book them. There is also a mini shinkansen that you can ride. It goes from outside the entrance zone to the library and theatre.
LIBRARY, THEATRE and LEGO PLAY AREA
Past the mini trains is a fun area for smaller children, housing the library with books galore about trains. Moreover, there is a great selection of English books. It also has a theatre which has a couple of showings of Thomas the Tank Engine episodes a day. There is also a play area with blocks and a wooden Thomas the Tank Engine play station in this area too.
Omiya Railway Museum KIDS SPACE
The “kids space” at the Omiya train museum is a play area for smaller children located in the entrance zone of the 2nd floor. It has rail track and trains for the kids to play with as well as a large plastic train for the kids to play in.
There are learning zones on each floor where there are lots of interactive challenges and experiences for children and adults alike.
The history zone displays a number of period trains including steam trains. You can also enter most of these trains to have a better look.
There is also a large model railway train city on display. It can be viewed from the “Kids space” or a special theatre.
There is also a panorama deck on the roof, a shinkansen viewing area on the 3rd floor, where you are allowed eat and there are some vending machines. They have a couple of restaurants within the complex. There are toilets on each floor of the train museum. Some have nappy change facilities. It is well worth a visit, no matter your age, or interest in trains… I have run out of steam, if you’ll pardon the pun. But if you would like to see more information or photos, take a look at these great blog posts too:
- Saitama Railway Museum (on Travel Dreamscapes) – unfortunately the Travel Dreamscapes blog no longer exists.
- The Railway Museum, Saitama City, Japan (on Life to Rest)
- Wikipedia entry with information on the specific trains on display
Saitama Railway Museum Information
URL: Official website
COST: 1000 yen for adults, 500 yen for school children, 200 yen for young children, free for children under 3. You can buy an annual pass, Teppa, for unlimited access and other benefits. Please do check the official website linked above for the most up-to-date prices – I can only update this post periodically.
HOURS: 10am to 6pm, last entry 5.30pm. Closed every Tuesday and from December 29th to January 1st for holidays.
By train: Take the New Shuttle from JR Omiya Station and get off at “Tetsudo-Hakubutsukan Station”. One-minute walk from “Tetsudo-Hakubutsukan Station”. It is just one stop and a 3 minute train ride from Omiya station.
By car: the train museum is four kilometers from Shintoshin exit of the Shuto Expressway. There are 280 parking spaces. It costs 500 yen to park for the day.
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