The Kyoto Railway Museum is one of the best railway museums anywhere in the world. It’s a must for train fans and families with children.
Kyoto Railway Museum Entrance – image © Chris Rowthorn
Formerly the Umekoji Steam Locomotive Museum, this superb museum was refurbished in 2016 and reopened as the Kyoto Railway Museum. It’s now greatly expanded and covers all aspects of trains, from the earliest days of steam to the ultra-modern shinkansen (bullet trains).
Turntable and Steam Locomotives – image © Chris Rowthorn
The museum retains its old section that centers on a turntable and roundhouse that contains a dozen or so beautifully restored steam locomotives, many of which you can enter and explore.
The SL Steam Locomotive Ready for Departure © sodaigomi
Near the roundhouse, there’s a boarding platform where you can board a train pulled by the “SL Steam” locomotive. A ride costs Y300 for adults and Y100 for children and there are departures every half hour or so during opening hours.
Kyoto Railway Museum Promenade Display – image © Chris Rowthorn
To the right of the main entrance, in the promenade area, you’ll find entire trains on display, including an early shinkansen, a steam train and a local commuter train.
Kyoto Railway Museum Main Building Display © pangyuliu
Inside the main building, on the first floor, you’ll find more trains on display, including a 500 series shinkansen – the coolest shinkansen ever! On the second and third floors of the main building, you’ll find a huge variety of excellent displays on trains, including a great model train layout that has an interior viewing area that only children can enter to watch the trains close up. It’s fantastic! And, if this all makes you hungry, there’s a family-friendly cafeteria where you can have a snack or a full meal.
Model Train Layout – image © Chris Rowthorn
All told, this is probably the best child-friendly destination in Kyoto. You can combine with a picnic in nearby Umekoji-koen Park or a visit to nearby To-ji Temple. See below for transport details.
If you want even more trains, the fascinating SCMAGLEV and Railway Park in Nagoya is definitely worth visiting too – it’s a 40 minute train ride from Kyoto. Legoland Nagoya is right next door to the Railway Park which is obviously great for if you’re travelling with kids of different ages.
10am to 5:30pm
open on holidays
closed Dec 30, 31 and Jan 1
university and high school students: Y1,000
junior high and elementary school students: Y500
children 3 years and up: Y200
Non-smoking area: Yes
20min walk from Kyoto Station (see the map on the museum website below), or,
Bus No 205 or 208 from Kyoto Station to the Umekoji-koen-mae bus stop
Website: Official Website (English)
Where Is This Place Located?See these places on our Kyoto Google map:
- Open the Kyoto map
- You will see the list of places on the left hand side. (Click the 3-line icon in the top left corner if not). Scroll down or use the map search (the magnifying glass icon) to find the place you want.
- Click the name of the place in the list. Its location pin will be highlighted on the map.
- Map pins are color coded - BLUE: Hotels | VIOLET: Ryokan | PINK: Places to Eat | YELLOW: Things to See and Do
- If you're using the map on your phone, open the map and then search for the name of the place. The map will then zoom in on its location.
See my complete list of hand-picked recommendations for the Kyoto Station Area, including things to do, places to eat and places to stay.
Kyoto Vacation Checklist
- Check Kyoto accommodation availability on Booking.com - usually you can reserve a room with no upfront payment. Pay when you check out. Free cancellations too.
- See my comprehensive Packing List For Japan
- Buy a data-only SIM card online for collection when you arrive at Kansai International Airport (for Osaka and Kyoto) or Tokyo's Narita Airport
- Compare Japan flight prices and timings to find the best deals
- If you're visiting more than one city, get your Japan Rail Pass
- Get travel insurance for Japan - we recommend World Nomads (and here's why)