Founded as the dream of a lifelong railroad enthusiast, the Hara Model Railway Museum is a stunning miniature world full that not only looks amazingly like our own, but actually operates like it as well.
Engineer and inventor Nobutaro Hara’s love of railroads began long before he established this massive museum. It began while he was in elementary school and Hara would collect train tickets and take long rides just for the experience. As his obsession grew over the years, he began building his own model trains and even learned German and French so that he could read foreign locomotive manuals. In his adult life, he would travel the globe, visiting various railroads and trainspotting the world over, creating his own models all the time. To date, Hara has accumulated over 6,000 model trains, 100,000 photos and hundreds of hours of film in his personal collection alone.
Finally, in 2012, Hara, notoriously close to his collection, agreed to start the Hara Model Railway Museum in Yokohama, where Japan’s first railroad started. The museum features almost 1,500 feet of track running through a massive central diorama called the “Ichiban Tetsumo Park.” Miniature citizens mill about the lit buildings, while the over 1,000 trains from Hara’s collection pass by hills and towns. Even more remarkable is how the trains are powered. Just like their full-size inspirations, many of the trains pull power from overhead power lines and run on iron tracks with iron wheels, creating a tiny-sized version of the iconic locomotive click-clack. Even invisible interior details such as brakes and gears have been copied from real life locomotives.
From steam trains to electric trains, the Hara Model Railway Museum is an impressive display of both one man’s life long obsession and of the art of the rails.
Know Before You Go
Within a 10-minute walk from Yokohama Station, give or take. The museum is on the second floor of Yokohama Mitsui Building. The admission fee is 1,000 yen for adults, 700 for students and 500 for children between 4 and 12. It is open every day except Tuesdays.