• Home > Exhibition Guide


Exhibition Guide

The history zone is one of our main exhibit spaces, and it takes up around half of the entire museum. Here we take a look at the history of trains in Japan through different eras in order to understand how rail systems and railway technology transformed from the Meiji period – when trains were first introduced to the country – to the modern day. The exhibit space is built around 36 full-size train cars and engines, six of which were built for the dedicated use of the imperial family. Also on display are important documents from different eras, and carefully-made scale models of real trains. One of the highlights of each area is the reconstructed scenery, created using photographs and other documentation, which give visitors a real taste of what railways and rail travel were like in the past.

1F History Zone

01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36

Click the buttons below to read descriptions of each era covered in the exhibit. Clicking on one of the trains in the image above will take you to a short description of that train.

  • 1.The Dawn of Railways in Japan
  • 3.The Start of Limited Express Service and Commuter Transpor
  • 5.The Nationwide Limited Express Network
  • 7.Freight Transportation by Rail
  • 2.The Nationwide Railway Network
  • 4.Mass Transportation and Electrification
  • 6.The Birth of the Skinkansen
  • 8.The History of the Imperial Model Railcars

1.The Dawn of Railways in Japan

Locomotive No.1

Japan's first steam locomotive. Imported from the United Kingdom.

  • National Important Cultural Property and Railway Monument
  • Number: 50
  • Year manufactured: 1871

Zenko Steam Locomotive

This steam locomotive was used by Nippon Railway and was known as "Zenko."

  • National Railway Monument
  • Number: 1292
  • Year manufactured: 1881

Benkei Steam Locomotive

The first steam locomotive operated in Hokkaido, it played a role in the island’s development. Known as "Benkei."

  • National Railway Monument
  • Number: 7101
  • Year manufactured: 1880

Kaitakushi Passenger Carriage

Special, US-built passenger car used during the development of Hokkaido.

  • National Railway Monument
  • Number: Kotoku 5010
  • Year manufactured: 1880

Early Passenger Carriage (Reproduction)

Full-scale reproduction of a third-class passenger carriage built during the Meiji period.

2.The Nationwide Railway Network

Hanifu 1 Passenger Carriage

Electric railcar used on the Kobu Railway, the predecessor to today’s Chuo Line. The first car to be used on the national electric rail network.

  • Number: Hanifu 1 (De 968)
  • Year manufactured: 1904

Class Nade 6110 Electric Railcar

National Railway Monument Oldest Japanese-made, truck-equipped, large-scale rail car. Used in the Tokyo area.

  • National Railway Monument
  • Number: Nade 6141
  • Year manufactured: 1914

Class 9850 Mallet Steam Locomotive

Only remaining Mallet locomotive in Japan. Used to cross Gotemba on the Tokaido Main Line.

  • Number: 9856
  • Year manufactured: 1913

Class ED40 Electric Locomotive

First Japanese-built electric locomotive. Used on the Abt rack-and-pinion railway between Yokokawa and Karuizawa on the Shinetsu Main Line.

  • Minor National Railway Monument
  • Number: ED40 10
  • Year manufactured: 1921

Class ED17 Electric Locomotive

Electric locomotive imported from the United Kingdom in preparation for the electrification of the Tokaido Main Line.

  • Number: ED17 1
  • Year manufactured: 1923

Class Kiha 41300 Railcar

First true large-scale gasoline-powered railcar. After being retired by Nippon Railway, was used on the Enshu and Tsukuba railway lines.

  • Number: Kiha 41307
  • Year manufactured: 1933

3. The Start of Limited Express Services and Commuter Transport

Class C51 Steam Locomotive

Japan's first high-speed steam locomotive, and equipped with 1750mm drive wheels.

  • Number: C51 5
  • Year manufactured: 1920

Class C57 Steam Locomotive

Standard locomotive used to haul express and limited express passenger trains.

  • Number: C57 135
  • Year manufactured: 1940

Class EF55 Electric Locomotive

This streamlined locomotive was used on the Tohoku Main Line limited express "Fuji" run and other passenger trains.

  • Year manufactured: 1936

Class Maite 39 Passenger Carriage

Tokaido Main Line first-class observation car with stately interior decorated in a Momoyama period motif.

  • Number: Maite 39 11
  • Year manufactured: 1930

Class Kumoha 40 Electric Railcar

Railcar with long, three-person seats that set the standard for pre-World War II commuter rail travel.

  • Number: Kumoha 40074
  • Year manufactured: 1936

Class Oha 31 Passenger Carriage

The first passenger carriage built of steel, it served as a standard, 17-meter long passenger car. Interiors were completed in wood.

  • Number: Oha 31 26
  • Year manufactured: 1927

4. Mass Transportation and Electrification

Class EF58 Electric Locomotive

A standard, post-war electric locomotive that enjoyed great popularity.

  • Number: EF58 89
  • Year manufactured: 1956

Class Nahanefu 22 Sleeping Car

First dedicated sleeper car for limited express passenger trains. Bogie were equipped with pneumatic springs, and the car had double-paned windows for sound-proofing.

  • Number: Nahanefu 22-1
  • Year manufactured: 1964

Class Kumoha 101 Electric Railcar

Nippon Railway's first high-performance commuter carriage. Used on commuter lines in the capital region and the Kansai area.

  • Number: Kumoha 101-902
  • Year manufactured: 1957

Class Kuha 181 Electric Railcar

Based upon the Class 151, Nippon Railway's first limited express railcar. Equipped with a more powerful main motor for steep grades. Used on the Joetsu Line.

  • Number: Kuha 181-45
  • Year manufactured: 1965

Class Kiha 11 Diesel Railcar

Introduced by Nippon Railway, this was the first hydraulic-transmission, diesel multiple-unit train in Japan.

  • Number: Kiha 11-25
  • Year manufactured: 1956
  • *A working-condition Class Kiha 11 Diesel Railcar is on display in the Park Zone.
  • *The carriage cannot currently be boarded.

5. The Nationwide Limited Express Network

Class Kuha 481 Electric Railcar

Lead carriage used on limited express trains on most lines throughout the country. Could handle all forms of power sources.

  • Number: Kuha 481-26
  • Year manufactured: 1965

Class Moha 484 Electric Railcar

This railcar was equipped with power rectifiers and transformers to enable it to move between lines powered by AC and DC electrical sources.

  • Number: Moha 484-61
  • Year manufactured: 1968

Class Kumoha 455 Electric Railcar

Long-distance railcar with a universal motor that was used in most of the country.

  • Number: Kumoha 455-1
  • Year manufactured: 1965

Class ED75 Electric Locomotive

A standard locomotive used on most of the AC-powered lines in Japan.

  • Number: ED75 775
  • Year manufactured: 1975

6. The Birth of the Shinkansen

Series 21 Shinkansen (Series 0 Shinkansen)

The front end of a lead car from the first shinkansen series to go into service in Japan.

  • Number: 21-25
  • Year manufactured: 1964

Series 222 Shinkansen

The 200 series of shinkansen trains was a new model built for use on the Tohoku and Joetsu shinkansen lines.

  • Number: 222-35
  • Year manufactured: 1982

Series 21 Shinkansen (Series 0 Shinkansen)

One of 360 cars built for the opening of the Tokaido Shinkansen in 1964, this was the lead car on Osaka-bound trains.

  • Number: 21-2
  • Year manufactured: 1964

7.Freight Transportation by Rail

Class EF66 Electric Locomotive

Nippon Railway's most powerful high-speed freight train locomotive.

  • Number: EF66 11
  • Year manufactured: 1968

Class Remufu 10000 Refrigerator Wagon

This refrigerated freight car was fitted with a conductor's room and used to haul fresh seafood from Kyushu to the Tokyo area.

  • Number: Remufu 10000
  • Year manufactured: 1966

Class Koki 50000 Container Wagon

These container cars ran freight under the slogan "from door to door" and revolutionized freight transport in Japan.

  • Number: Koki 50000
  • Year manufactured: 1966

8.The History of the Imperial Model Railcars

Imperial Model Class 1 (The First)

The first dedicated imperial rail carriage. Built for the Meiji period emperor.

  • National Important Cultural Property and Railway Monument
  • Year manufactured: 1876

Imperial Model Class 2 (The First)

Imperial rail carriage built for the Meiji period emperor by Kyushu Railway.

  • National Railway Monument
  • Year manufactured: 1891

Imperial Model Class 7

Imperial rail carriage built for the Taisho period emperor. Interiors were decorated in the industrial art style.

  • National Railway Monument
  • Year manufactured: 1914

Imperial Model Class 9

This carriage was used by the emperor during the Taisho period as a dining carriage.

  • National Railway Monument
  • Year manufactured: 1914

Imperial Model Class 10

This carriage was used by the emperor during the Taisho period as an observation carriage.

  • National Railway Monument
  • Year manufactured: 1922

Imperial Model Class 12

Imperial carriage used by the prince regent (the future Showa period emperor.) This was the last wooden carriage built for the use of the imperial family.

  • National Railway Monument
  • Year manufactured: 1924