Shinkansen fans will love SCMAGLEV and Railway Park in Nagoya
With so many railways, Japan has many train fans. Helping to feed this mania are railway museums large and small. Japan’s train museums each have their unique attractions. It’s definitely not “If you’ve seen one train museum in Japan, you’ve seen them all.” For example, the Kyoto Railway Museum (京都鉄道博物館) specializes in steam locomotives and even has a genuine steam locomotive roundhouse (garage) from the old days. Really cool.
In Omiya, Saitama Prefecture, the Railway Museum (鉄道博物館) preserves the first locomotive that was used on Japan’s first railway between Shimbashi and Yokohama in 1872. It was imported from the UK. Lots of early rail history there, including a scale model of the original Shimbashi Station in Tokyo.
And here in Nagoya, the SCMAGLEV and Railway Park specializes in shinkansen and Maglev trains. The upper photo shows four generations of the Tokaido shinkansen that ran between Tokyo and Osaka. On the extreme right is the original and iconic “Bullet Train” that debuted in 1964 in time for the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics. The distinctive nose made it look like a speeding bullet. Next to it is the second generation (100 Series) that came out with a more pointy nose in 1985.
Then the third generation (300 Series) in 1992 was dubbed “Robocop” by fans because that’s what it looked like. On the far left is the more modern shinkansen (700 Series) with a duck-bill nose in operation from 1999. Gee, why do they keep changing the nose design? The original bullet nose was perfect and most iconic…
You can go inside each shinkansen and check out the interior, seats, upholstery, and toilets. Really brings back memories of the first time I rode a shinkansen. Amazing to see how the trains have been improved, especially the restrooms. (No more squat toilets.) The driver also has a much more comfortable chair than the simple stool the original shinkansen had. The greatest improvement though, was that the non-smoking cars increased from only a few to all the train cars. No ashtrays in the passenger cabins. No smoking on the train platform either.
The museum also displays two prototype Maglev (magnetic levitation) trains (lower photo). Nagoya has much interest in Maglev because it will be one terminus of the Maglev shinkansen line now under construction between Tokyo (Shinagawa) and Nagoya. Named “Chuo Shinkansen,” the Maglev line is scheduled to open in 2027 (might be delayed though) and eventually extended to Osaka. It will take only 40 min. to travel between Tokyo and Nagoya. This is less than half the time it takes now with the Tokaido Shinkansen Nozomi train. When the Chuo Shinkansen is running, they can finally reinforce and update the Tokaido Shinkansen’s aging infrastructure.
The Chuo Shinkansen won’t have much scenery since most the line will be in tunnels. They are still experimenting with Maglev train designs and testing prototypes on a test track in Yamanashi Prefecture. The latest Maglev train design has a long, sharp nose looking like a stork’s bill instead of a duck bill.
SCMAGLEV and Railway Park is near the waterfront Kinjo-futo Station on the Aonami Line that starts from Nagoya Station.