Ever wonder what a train museum might look like if you had an insane amount of money to spend on it? It’d probably be something along the lines of the SCMAGLEV and Railway Park, in Nagoya, Japan. Make no mistake this is a far cry from the rusting hulks outside dilapidated engine sheds that I started photographing back in eastern Europe….
Railways in Japan are mostly owned by Japan Railways, or JR, however they are split into regional companies, such as JR East, JR Central and JR West. Each seems to see having a world class railway museum as some sort of must, presumably for PR purposes, and the MAGLEV Park in Nagoya, run by JR Central is certainly one of those. JR Central wishes to build a 500kmph Maglev track between Tokyo and Osaka, which explains the Maglev part of the museum title and why it can be summarised as being an all singing and dancing celebration of Japan’s history of achievements in the field of railways.
Once again my skewed sense of priorities on this trip meant that I visited the ancient capital of Nara for only a few hours before leaving in order to give myself half a day free to trek out to Nagoya to visit the SCMAGLEV Railway Park. (By the way the SC stands for Super Conducting) And this honestly really is a fantastic museum which should be visited not just by weirdos interested in railways but also anyone who has any trace of an interest in Japanese design, or just design in general. And if you do like trains you may have to repress and urge to run around screaming like a small child.
Not only are the locomotives on display first-rate, being both beautiful examples of design as well as being well-lit, but there is plenty of English signage and a whole selection of exhibits explaining how things like pantographs and other railway equipment work. There are also opportunities, (via a raffle as it’s very popular) to drive various train simulators including one of the aforementioned 500kph Maglev and whilst you can’t go inside any of the locomotives there are a mass of carriages that you can go through including the kitchen and dining cars from early Shinkansens and the Japanese equivalent of the UK’s banana train, a train outfitted with lots of modern technology to monitor the condition of the tracks and overheads and painted bright yellow. Fun fact, the Japanese call it Doctor Yellow, although I prefer Banana train.
Hopefully the photos speak for themselves…
If you enjoyed this you might be interested in the other railway museum pages, which can be found on the menu above this post or by following this link.