Friday, July 14, 2017

More on the Kyoto (Japan) museum

As part of describing some interesting aspects of my recent trip to Japan, I wrote an appreciation of the Kyoto Railroad Museum, a superb facility well worth a visit by anyone with even a small interest in railroads (you can read my post here: ).
     The core of the Kyoto facility is a concrete roundhouse, which served the Kyoto engine terminal in steam days. I showed some views that included it in my prior post. Here is another photo from inside, and you can see the earthquake reinforcements added to the structure. (At photo center is a former JNR D50-140 locomotive of 2-8-2 wheel arrangement.)

      But also on display at the museum was a superb model of the facility as it once was, looking to me like HO scale (remember that Japanese track gauge in steam days was 42 inches). I want to show some images of that model, both because of the fine modelbuilding, and because it shows the similarities and differences of Japanese and American steam facilities. First, here is an overall view of the model, looking in a direction which on the prototype would be pretty nearly northward. The large number of garden tracks (used as ready tracks) is noteworthy.

Moving around to the left of the model view above, one sees a different perspective of the roundhouse and the shops to its west. Especially interesting here is the coaling facility at photo center, with overhead cranes to fill tenders from the elevated coal bunker and also to unload from coal cars, like the gondola shown to the left of the bunker.

Moving still farther left, the car shops are depicted, again easily oriented relative to the back of the roundhouse at photo top. Most cars shown are passenger cars, but a smaller freight car shop was also included.

This was really an interesting historical depiction of former uses of the facility we visit today.
     But before leaving the Kyoto Railroad Museum, I have to say that you cannot dislike a museum where you come upon items like this as you stroll from building to building.

     Now of course all this viewing of models whetted my appetite, and so on the way back to the hotel, we stopped by the main Kyoto train station, containing a great many shops in the associated building, and one of them was a Kato shop, with both N and HO scale models. (American modelers are familiar with Kato USA, an offshoot of this Japanese company.) I didn’t experience too much temptation to make a purchase, since the models on sale were entirely Japanese outline, but here is my wife posing at the entrance. It was fun to visit anyway, and of course anyone inspired by watching and riding Japanese trains could pick up a nice souvenir here.

     This wraps up what I wanted to say about a terrific visit to Japan. And I will repeat my previous suggestion: if you are anywhere in east Asia, try and fit in a visit to this superb museum.
Tony Thompson

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