Steam Railways in Japan

Japan is a country well known for its fast and modern electric trains, especially the Shinkansen, the world's first high-speed railway. But there are a few lines with regular steam operations. This page gives some information about them.

First, some links including steam in Japan:

See my link page for a lot more information about Japanese railways.

Last update: 28 February 2002

In Japan, there are the following lines and museums with steam operations:

General notes

The JNR (Japanese National Railways) have given up steam operations in December 1975, and from then SL (also the Japanese abbrevation for Steam Locomotive) have been running on the Oigawa Railway. In the late 1980s, there was a boom with several more SL coming into service. But although steam trains are very popular among railfans in Japan, the sale from tickets alone is not enough to cover their costs, and so [2C2] C 62 3 in Hokkaido was not overhauled in 1995, now standing as a static display at Naebo Works in Sapporo. The seven main routes with regular steam operations are all normal railways (no museum railways with steam only as in Europe and America), and they have added the SL to generate extra traffic along their normally quite rural - although sometimes electrified - lines. Two museums have small railways inside their premises, Meiji-Mura and Umekoji, which are described below. All these lines have a gauge of 1067 mm (3'6"). Static SL can be seen quite often all over the country.

There are also very many small railways with narrow gauge (762 mm or less) in Japan with steam locomotives, mostly operating as a circle line in theme parks. One of them is the Narita Yume Bokujo Railway. More about these railways below.

Reservations: All trains listed here only have reserved seats. Reservations can be made at JR travel centers or ticket windows (midori no madoguchi) throughout the country (for Chichibu and Mooka: at JR East only). Normally reservations can be made one month before and I strongly recommend to reserve well in advance.

Days of operations: Only the Oigawa has a daily steam train. The other lines are running normally at weekends and on public holidays between the middle of March and the end of October or even November; Mooka is running throughout the year. Many lines run more often or even daily during Golden Week (29 April to 5 May) and the summer holiday season. If I know the days of operation, I have given them here; however if there are no dates given for one month, then it does not necessarly mean that there are no steam trains running in that period. Older dates are not deleted to show the pattern of operation.

(sometimes old news, but better than nothing...)

Winter Specials: There have been quite a few special steam runs during the Christmas and New Year session 2000/2001:
C 11 207 and C 11 171 ran on the Kushiro Main Line in Hokkaido in January. C 58 363 ran as "Yasuragi" on the Joetsu Line, sometimes even pulling EF 60 19, in December. In January, C 58 363 was used on the Joetsu line together with EF 58 61 to haul "SL Banetsu Monogatari" and "EFSL Minkami". C 57 180 ran with a "Xmas train" headmark from Niitsu to Aizu-Wakamatsu on 24 December. On New Year's Eve, EF 58 150 and C 57 1 lined up in Ogori to celebrate. The Mooka Railway ran a double-header (C 11 325 and C 12 66) on 1 January. On 12 December, C 12 66 ran as "C 12 1212", as 2000 was the Japanese year Heisei 12, thus the date was 12.12.12, as shown in this number. (Micro Ace has released an N-scale model of the C 12 1212.)

(from Tetsudo Fan)
Takasaki: The SL "Sayonara Yasuragi-go" runs on 31 March 2001 between Takasaki and Minakami, with green cars only.

Steam Specials: C 11 171 and C 11 207 have run double-headed over the Niseko-route on 12 October 2000. C 11 207 was rebuilt again for the regular service on that route (see below). C 57 180 and D 51 498 have run parallel near Aizu-Wakamatsu on 9 July 2000, with extremely many railfans present (traffic chaos on the paralleling roads...).

(from Tetsudo Fan 10/2000 and 1/2001)

Tsuruga: JR West runs steam locos between Tsuruga and Tsuruga-ko (Tsuruga harbour) over a 2.7 km long freight line with C 56 160 as "SL Kirameki" on 7 and 8 August 1999.

Hokkaido: C 11 171 will start operations on JR Hokkaido's Rumoi-line (starting from Fukagawa near Asahikawa) in spring 1999. There is not much traffic on this line, presently 8 return workings a day. It is hoped to bring more traffic to this route by the SL trains. The locomotive C 11 171 was built by Kawasaki in 1940. The train will run daily during the Golden Week and the summer holidays and Saturday and Sunday from May to October.

from Anthony Robins

 Mo'oka: C 12 66 was in Hokkaido to be featured in the NHK television drama "Suzuran", which is to be broadcasted in April 1999. The loco left Shimodate on the 24. November 1998 and arrived in Hokkaido 4 days later. The train (consisting of two brown carriges from the JR Takasaki depot: oha 47 and ohafu 33) was pulled with a top speed of 45 km/h until Asahikawa. Interesting to note: The train ran along the Rumoi-line, which will see regular steam from summer 1999! (see above)

from Anthony Robins and Tetsudo Fan 2/1999

 C 57 180 will run as "SL Ban'etsu Monogatari Go" between Niitsu and Aizu-Wakamatsu from 29. April 1999. (see below)

JR Shikoku is planning to operate steam trains between Chayamachi on the Uno-line and Tadotsu on the Yosan-line across the Seto Great Bridge (Seto Ôhashi) from 10 to 13 April 1998. The steam engine to be used is JR West-owned C 56 160, which will haul five class 14 coaches. Three round trips will be made on each days. This is one of JR Shikoku's commemorative events for the 10-year anniversary of the bridge.

from Hiroshi Naito


The Oigawa Railway (Ôigawa Tetsudô) is a private railway with a (nearly) daily steam train (except some days, see below):

Kanaya lv: 11.50, Senzu ar: 13.07
Senzu lv: 14.50, Kanaya ar: 16.09

This train will run on the following days:
daily until (and including) 3 December
plus on the following days:
December: 6,7,8,9,10,12,14,15,16,17,19,21,22,23,24,26,28,29,30,31

the train will run on the following days:
January: 2,3,4,5,6,7,9,11,12,13,14,16,18,19,20,21,23,25,26,27,28,30
February: 1,2,3,4,6,8,9,10,11,13,15,16,17,18,20,22,23,24,25,27
March: 1,2,3,4,6,8,9,10,11,13,15,16,17,18,20,21,22,23,24,25,26,27,28,29,30,31
April and later: not yet known, but most probably daily.

There are additional trains on some weekends and during the holiday-season:
(a) Kanaya lv: 10.00, Senzu ar: 11.17
(b) Kanaya lv: 12.45, Senzu ar: 14.07
(c) Senzu lv: 13.20, Kanaya ar: 14.45
(d) Senzu lv: 15.30, Kanaya ar: 16.49

The trains will run as follows in 2001:
Train (a):
April: 13,14,28,29,30
May: 1,2,3,4,5
June: 9
July: 20,21,22,30
August: daily until (and including) 24, 26
September: 8,15,22,23
October: 6,7,5,20,21,22,23,24,25,26,27,28,29,30,31
November: daily until (and including) 25
Train (b):
April: 21
May: 26
June: 23
July: 14
August: 25
September: 29
October: 13
Train (c):
April: 14
June: 9
September: 8,15,22,23
October: 6,7,20,21,22,23,24,25,26,27
Train (d):
April: 13,21,28,29,30
May: 1,2,3,4,5,26
June: 23
July: 14,20,21,22,30,31
August: daily until (and including) 26
September: 29
October: 13,15,28,29,30,31
November: daily until (and including) 25
December: 1

A single trip costs 2370 Yen.

Read more about the Oigawa and see many photos in Hiroshi Naito's report about this railway, where you will also find a list of all locomotives. The Oigawa Railway is electrified, and besides the steam trains you find many old second-hand EMUs. As there is no turntable in Senzu, the trains run "backwards" from Senzu to Kanaya. (I have seen a photo in the Railfan Journal, which showed a turntable at Senzu, but it does not seem to be in operation.). When I was riding the steam train on the Oigawa in 1994, the female conductor sang Japanese folk songs through the loudspeaker to entertain the passengers - just open the window and listen to the loco!

In August 1998, Oigawa's C11 227 was painted red like "Anpanman" (a comic character) and was running as "SL Man". See photos on Noz' page.

Kanaya can be reached with a local JR train in about 30 min from Shizuoka or 15 min from Kakegawa (both are Shinkansen-stations). For more information or reservation, call 0547-45-4112.


The Chichibu Railway (Chichibu Tetsudô) is a private electrified railway northwest of Tokyo. Well known for its heavy freight service with cement trains, there are also steam trains. From the end of March until November, there is a steam train most Sundays and many Saturdays, and this train also runs on some other busy days in summer.

Timetable for Saturday, Sunday and holidays:
Kumagaya lv: 10.10, Mitsumineguchi ar: 12.49
Mitsumineguchi lv: 14.03, Kumagaya ar: 16.18

Timetable for Monday to Friday:
Kumagaya lv: 10.10, Mitsumineguchi ar: 12.44
Mitsumineguchi lv: 14.00, Kumagaya ar: 16.20

Although the Chichibu steam train does only stop at major stations, regular electric trains overtake the steam train - very unusual if compared to the other steam operations in Japan.

March: 28,29
April: 4,5,11,12,19,25,26,29
May: 3,4,5,9,10,17,23,24,31
June: 7,14,21,28
July: 5,12,19,20,24,25,26,31
August: 1,2,7,8,9,14,15,16,21,22,23,29,30
September: 6,13,15,20,23,27
October: 4,10,11,18,24,25,31
November: 1,3,7,8,14,15,21,22,23
March: 27,28
April: 3,4,10,11,18,24,25,29
May: 2,3,4,5,8,9,16,22,23,30
June: 6,13,20,27
July: 4,11,18,20,24,25,31
August: 1,6,7,8,13,14,15,20,21,,2,28,29
September: 5,12,15,19,23,26
October: 3,9,10,11,17,23,24,31
November: 3,6,7,13,14,21,23,27,28 (13: group charter)
2000: not listed
March: 24,25,30,31
April: 6,7,8,13,14,15,21,22,28,29
May: 5,6,13,13,19,20,26,27
June: 3,9,10,17,23,24
July: 1,8,14,15,21,22,27,28,29
August: 3,4,5,10,11,12,15,17,18,19,24,25,26
September: 2,8,9,15,16,22,23,24,30
October: 6,7,13,14,20,21,27,28
November: 3,4,9,10,14,17,18,23,24,25
March: 23,24,30,31
April: every Saturday, every Sunday, and every public Holiday, plus 5
May: every Saturday, every Sunday, and every public Holiday
June: every Saturday, every Sunday
July: every Saturday, every Sunday, and every public Holiday, plus 26
August: every Saturday, every Sunday, plus 2,9,15,16,23,30
September: every Saturday, every Sunday, and every public Holiday
October: every Saturday, every Sunday, and every public Holiday
November: 2,3,4,9,10,14,16,17,23,24

On the Chichibu, the 1944 built locomotive [1C1] C 58 363 (maintained by JR in Takasaki) is running as "Paleo Express". It seems that this locomotive is actually owned by JR East, as it appears in JR's stock lists. There is a turntable on both ends of the line. A small railway museum in Mitsumineguchi is worth a visit.

A single trip costs 1420 Yen. The steam surcharge of 500 Yen is included in this price; however, if you book your journey before, that can be done at any JR East ticket center, and you buy only the steam surcharge (SL seiri-ken) there. To book directly at the Chichibu, call 0485-23-3317.

Kumagaya is a station on the Joetsu- and Nagano-Shinkansen between Omiya and Takasaki.

Hiroshi Naito has written a fine report about the Chichibu Railway, including photos and information on steam and freight.


Mo'oka Railway (Mo'oka Tetsudô) is a third-sector-railway. It used to be a line of the Japanese National Railways, but was taken over by the new founded Mo'oka with the financial help of local governments. It is the only third-sector-railway in Japan with steam operations. There is a steam train every Saturday and Sunday and on some other days. From 1998, the train does also run in the winter season, see below!

Shimodate lv: 10.36, Motegi ar: 12.02
Motegi lv: 14.29, Shimodate ar: 15.58

This train runs on the following days:
April: 4,5,11,12,18,19,25,26
May: 2,3,4,5,9,10,16,17,23,24,30,31
June: 6,7,13,14,20,21,27,28
July: 4,5,11,12,18,19,20,23,24,25,26,27,30,31
August: 1,2,3,6,7,8,9,10,13,14,15,16,17,20,21,22,23,24,27,28,29,30,31
September: 12,13,15,19,20,23,26,27 (note: not running on first weekend!)
October: 3,4,10,11,14,17,18,24,25,31
November: 1,3,7,8,14,15,21,22,23,28,29
December: 5,6,12,13,19,20,23,24,25,26,27,28,31
January: 1,2,3,4,9,10,15,16,17,23,24,30,31
February: 6,7,11,13,14,20,21,27,28
March: 6,7,13,14,20,21,22,26,27,28,29
April: 3,4,10,11,17,18,24,25,29
May: 1,2,3,4,5,8,9,15,16,22,23,29,30
June: 5,6,12,13,19,20,26,27
July: 3,4,10,11,17,18,19,20,22,23,24,25,26,29,30,31
August: 1,2,5,6,7,8,9,12,13,14,15,16,19,20,21,22,23,26,27,28,29,30
September: 4,5,11,12,15,18,19,23,25,26
October: 2,3,9,10,11,14,16,17,23,24,30,31
November: 3,6,7,13,14,20,21,23,27,28
December: 4,5,11,12,18,19,23,24,25,26,27,30,31
2000: not listed
March and earlier: not known
April: 1,7,8,14,15,21,22,28,29
May: 5,6,21,13,19,20,26,27
June: 2,3,9,10,16,17,23,24,30
July: not listed
August: daily until 26,30,31
September: 1,2,8,9,15,16,22,23,24,29,30
October: 6,7,8,13,14,20,21,27,28
November: 3,4,10,11,17,18,23,24,25
January and February: not known
March: 21,22,23,24,28,29,30,31
April: every Saturday, Sunday and public holiday
May: every Saturday, Sunday and public holiday
June: 1,2,8,9,15,16,22,23
July and later: not yet known
There are two locomotives at the Mo'oka Railway: C 12 66 since March 1994, and C 11 325 since November 1998. Red dates: double-headed trains.

The first locomotive is [1C1T] C 12 66, built in 1933 by Hitachi and operating until 1972; the last position was in Aizu-Wakamatsu. It was bought by the Mo'oka in 1991 and restored in the JR workshop in Omiya, running on the Mo'oka since March 1994. Read more about the Mooka and see photos of C 12 66 on Hiroshi Naito's Mooka-page. There is also a page by the city of Mooka.

A single trip costs 1000 Yen plus the steam surcharge for 500 Yen. Ticket reservations (including the steam surcharge) can be made at major JR East stations. There used to be a one-day-free-ticket for the whole Mo'oka Railway for 1500 Yen only in 1998. When I wanted to get it in 2000, I was told it did not exist any longer, although several railway officials admitted that this was a very useful and convenient ticket. For information, call 0285-84-2911.

There are two routes to get from Tokyo to Shimodate: Take the Tohoku-Shinkansen to Oyama, and change to a local train to Shimodate; or take a local or rapid JR train to Toride (Joban-line), and then ride the Kanto Railway all the way from Toride to its terminus at Shimodate.
Approximately in the middle of the Mo'oka Railway, there is the town of Mashiko, famous for its long pottery-tradition. The station-building in Mo'oka town has been built new in 1997, is has the shape of a steam locomotive!


The steam train along the Yamaguchi-line is operated by JR West. At the termini in Ogori and Tsuwano, there are turntables, so the locomotives are always facing in the right direction. The steam train runs every Sunday, about every second Saturday and on some other days between March and November. In the holiday period the train runs daily except Monday (but does run in case of a holiday on Monday).

Ogori lv: 10.40, Tsuwano ar: 12.41
Tsuwano lv: 15.30, Ogori ar: 17.11

The dates when the train runs are:
January: 1,2,3
March: 14,15,21,22,23,24,25,26,27,28,29,30,31
April: 1,2,3,4,5,11,12,18,19,25,26,29,30
May: 1,2,3,4,5,9,10,19,17,23,24,30,31
June: 7,13,14,21,27,28
July: 5,11,12,19,20,24,25,26,27,28,29,30,31
August: 1,2,4,5,6,7,8,9,11,12,13,14,15,16,18,19,20,21,22,23,30
September: 6,12,13,15,20,23,26,27
October: 4,10,11,18,24,25
November: 1,3,8,14,15,22,23,28,29 (only on 8 November: C 56 160 with DE 10)
March: 20,21,22,23,24,25,26,27,28,29,30,31
April: 1,2,3,4,10,11,17,18,24,25,29,30
May: 1,2,3,4,5,8,9,15,16,22,23,29,30
June: 6,12,13,20,26,27
July: 4,10,11,18,20,24,25,26,27,28,29,30,31
August: 1,3,4,5,6,7,8,1,11,12,13,14,15,17,18,19,20,21,22,28,29
September: 5,11,12,15,19,23,25,26
October: 3,9,10,11,17,23,24,31
November: 3,7,13,14,21,22,27,28
2000: not listed
March: 18,20,24,25,26,27,28,29,30,31
April: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,14,15,22,28,29,30
May: 1,2,3,4,5,6,12,13,20,26,27
June: 3,9,10,17,23,24
July: 1,7,8,14,15,17,18,19,20,21,22,23,24,25,26,27,28,29,30,31
August: 1,2,3,4,5,7,8,9,10,11,12,14,15,16,17,18,19,25,26,28,29,30,31
September: 1,2,4,5,6,7,8,9,11,12,13,14,15,16,18,19,20,21,22,23,24,26,27,28,29,30
October: 6,7,8,13,14,21,27,28
November: 3,4,10,11,18,23,24,25
December: 2
March: 21,22,23,24,25,26,27,28,29,30,31
April: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,13,14,21,27,28,29,30
May: 1,2,3,4,5,6,11,12,19,25,26
June: 1,2,8,9,16,22,23,29,30
July and later: not yet known

green dates: double-headed C 57 1 and C 56 160

Trains are normally hauled by [2C1] C 57 1, based at Umekoji (but can be seen there only once per year), which has been on this route since 1979, and sometimes by [1C] C 56 160 or other locos, also from Umekoji. The train normally has five passenger cars: Observation Parlor Car, European Car, Retro-Showa Car, Retro-Taisho Car, Retro-Meiji Car, so giving a good overview about car history. This route is the second-oldest in Japan for "new" steam after the Oigawa.

The steam supplement is 510 Yen per ride.

Ogori is located on the Sanyo-Shinkansen at the western end of Honshu island. A Shinkansen journey from Osaka takes 2.5 hours, from Tokyo up to 5.5 hours.


This is the second regular steam route operated by JR, this time JR Kyushu. The train (nicknamed "Aso-Boy") runs every Saturday and Sunday and on some other days between March and the end of November between Kumamoto and Miyaji on the Hohi-line. Miyaji is a city within the great caldera of the Aso volcano, which is still active.You can visit the active crater by taking a bus (40 min) from Aso station to Aso West (Aso-san nishi) and then by ropeway. However, the journey on the Aso-Boy is very attractive, as the train climbs up very high, and there are two switchbacks near Tateno station.

Kumamoto lv: 10.15, Miyaji ar: 12.29
Miyaji lv: 15.40, Kumamoto ar: 17.51

The train runs on the following days:
March: 21,22,23,24,25,26,27,29
April: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,11,12,18,19,25,26,29,30
May: 1,2,3,4,5,10,16,17,23,24,30,31
June: 6,7,13,14,20,21,27,28
July: 4,5,11,12,19,20,21,22,23,24,25,26,27,28,29,30,31
August: 1,2,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20,21,22,23,26,27,28,29,30,31
September: 5,6,12,13,14,15,19,20,23,26,27
October: 3,4,10,11,17,18,24,25,31
November: 1,3,7,8,14,15,21,22,23,28,29
March: 20,21,22,23,24,25,26,27,28
April: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,10,11,17,18,24,25,29,30
May: 1,2,3,4,5,9,12,15,16,22,23,29,30
June: 5,6,12,13,19,20,26,27
July: 3,4,10,11,18,19,20,21,24,25,26,27,28,29,30,31
August: 1,2,3,4,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,21,22,23,24,25,26,27,28,29,30,31
September: 4,5,11,12,13,14,15,18,19,23,25,26
October: 10,11,16,17,23,24,30,31
November: 3,6,7,13,14,21,21,22,23,27
2000: not listed
March: 19,20,21,22,23,24,28,29,30,31
April: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,21,22,28,29,30
May: 1,2,3,4,5,6,16,19,20,26,27
June: 2,3,9,10,16,17,23,24,30
July: 1,7,8,14,15,20,21,22,23,24,25,26,27,28,29
August: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20,23,24,25,26,27,28,29,30,31
September: 1,2,8,9,15,16,22,23,24
October: 6,7,8,13,14,20,21,27,28
November: 3,4,10,11,17,18,23,24,25
March: 23,30,31
April: 1,2,3,4,5,7,13,14,20,21,27,28,29,30
May: 1,2,3,4,5,6,12,18,19,25,26
June: 1,2,8,9,15,16,22,23,29,30
July and later: not yet known

These trains are hauled by [1C] loco 58654 (class 8620), built in 1922 and operated until 1975, started as Aso-Boy in 1988. The class number still follows the old system of numbering, which was used until 1928. According to the new system of numbering, it would be between C 50 and C 99. There is a turntable in Miyaji, so the trains run the "correct" direction each way. Many photos can be found at Fukusaburo Hamada's Online Photo ALbum (OPAL). The Aso-Boy runs in American style with the conductor wearing boots, leather jacket and a cowboy hat. There is a relationship to the Durango & Silverton Railroad in Colorado.

The steam supplement is 800 Yen per ride.

Kumamoto is served twice per hour by express trains from Hakata, the terminus of the Sanyo-Shinkansen. You can also ride the Hohi-line to the other terminus, Oita, so making a round trip.

JR Kyushu is also operating the steam train "Hitoyoshi Go", using the same SL and cars as Aso-Boy. The supplement is also 800 Yen.
The train runs very seldom:
1997: 10 October
1998: 9 May, 18 July, 9 October
1999: 8 May, 17 July, 9 October
2000: not listed
2001: 25 March, 12 May
2002: 24 March, 11 May

Kumamoto lv. 8.49, Hitoyoshi ar. 10.51
Hitoyoshi lv. 16.26, Kumamoto ar. 18.34

Meiji Mura

Meiji Mura (Meiji Village) is an open-air museum operated by Meitetsu, the large private railway around Nagoya. At Meiji Mura, there are many buildings from the Meiji Era (1868 - 1912) and also a short steam railway (800 metres) and an historic tram. Two SL are there (no. 9 and 12), built in 1874 in England, and the three cars are from the same period.
A single ride on the tram or the SL costs 200 or 300 Yen, but a free day ticket with unlimited rides is availiable for 500 Yen (obviously not sold on some busy days). The tram runs every 20, the steam train every 30 minutes.

The official homepage of Meiji Mura gives lots of general information, but nothing about the railway and the tramway. See Fukusaburo Hamada's photo album for some nice shots.

Meiji Mura is a 20 min bus ride from Inuyama station at Meitetsu-Inuyama line, north of Nagoya. Buses from Inuyama run every 15 or 30 minutes, and a ticket for bus and entrance to the museum is availiable from the travel office at Inuyama station for 2420 Yen. There is also a ticket including Meitetsu trains from Shin-Nagoya, bus and entrance fee, for sale at Nagoya station.


Japan's largest railway museum is Umekoji (Umekoji Jôki-kikansha-kan) in Kyoto. It is an old depot with a turntable, operated by JR West. There are several working steam locomotives, and the locos for the Yamaguchi-line have their home here at Umekoji.

There is a train in the museum, normally one of the locomotives listed below with two open cars. A ride on this train is 200 Yen. It runs at 11.00, 13.30 and 15.30.

There are the following locomotives at Umekoji (see the photos and more information at Hiroshi Naito's Umekoji-page):

able to run:
[1C] C 56 160 (normally operating on the Biwako-line, see below; built 1939)
[2C1] C 57 1 (standard locomotive on the Yamaguchi-line, see above; built 1937)
[2C2] C 61 2 (built 1948)
[2C2] C 62 2 (built 1948)
[1D1] D 51 200 (often used inside the museum; built 1938)
[1C] class 8620 no. 8630 (often used inside the museum; built 1914)

not able to run:
class 9600 no. 9633 (built 1914)
B 20 10 (built 1946)
C 11 64 (built 1935)
C 51 239 (built 1927)
C 53 45 (built 1928)
C 55 1 (built 1935)
C 58 1 (built 1938)
C 59 164 (built 1946)
C 62 1 (built 1948)
D 50 140 (built 1926)
D 51 1 (built 1936)
D 52 468 (built 1946)

Take a bus (route 205 or 208) or a short taxi ride from Kyoto station to get to Umekoji (until Umekoji-koen-mae). The entrance is 400 Yen. Be aware of many kindergarten-groups in the museum, as they seem to be the main customers for it. Open daily except Monday from 9.30 to 17.00; also open on busy seasons, but closed during new year (29.12. to 3.1.). For more information, go to or phone 075-314-2996.


There are often steam trains with locomotives from the Takasaki depot, organized by JR East. The trains run on many weekends and some other days:

Takasaki lv: 9.32, Minakami ar: 11.50
(when combined with EL: Takasaki lv: 12.00, Minakami ar: 12.00, see below)
Minakami lv: 15.25, Takasaki ar: 17.10

This train runs as "SL Oku-tone" on the following days:
October 1997: 5,10,11,12,14,19,25,26
November 1997: 1,2,3,8,9
March 1998: 21,22
April 1998: 11,12,18,19,29.
May 1998: 3,4,5, further dates until July 1999 not known
July: 20,24,25
this train does not run as "Oku-tone" later in the year; see below "Historic Electric locos from Ueno"

There are also trains to Yokogawa in 1999:
Ueno lv: 7.57, Yokogawa ar: 11.08: April: 18; August : 28; with EL and SL
Takasaki lv: 9.20, Yokogawa ar: 10.30: April 24,25; August: 21,22; with SL

Historic electric locomotives to and from Ueno:
The above trains sometimes start their journey in Ueno with an historic electric locomotive until Takasaki and then further on Minakami with SL; back in the afternoon, again Takasaki - Ueno by EL.
Ueno lv: 7.58, Takasaki ar: 9.49, lv: 10.00, Minakami ar: 12.01
Minakami lv: 15.25, Takasaki ar: 17.10, lv: 17.24, Ueno ar: 19.25

This train runs only on special days:
1997: EF 81-81 (Nov.1), EF 81-95 (Nov.2), EF 58-61(Nov.3), EF 62 (Nov.8 and 9)
1998: January: 2,3,4; May 3,4,5; August: 13,14,15,16,28,29,30; November: 3,7,8,14,15
1999: March 21,22,27,28; April: 29; May: 2,3,4,5; August: 1,7,8,13,14,15,29; September: 25,26
2001: May 3,4,5,6,12,13,19,20,26,27

The steam-train "Uto-toge" is also operated by the JR Takasaki depot.
Shiojiri lv: 9.30, Okaya ar:11:12, hauled by D 51
Shiojiri lv: 14.15, Okaya ar: 16.11, hauled by D 51
Okaya lv: 11.44, Shiojiri ar: 12.48, hauled by EF 58
These trains run only on 22, 23 and 24 November 1997

The D 51 498 also hauls "Ginga Dream" between Hanamaki and Kamaishi (Morioka-ken) on some dates.
On 26,27 September 1998, there was also "SL Tsugaru Apple" between Hirosaki and Aomori with the same loco.
On 12,13 December 1998, there was "SL Kita-Alps" between Matsumoto and Shinano-Omachi with Chichibu's C 58 363.

The locomotive used is [1D1] D 51 498, which was built in 1940 and restored in 1988. The Takasaki depot is also well known for its collection of historic electric locomotives: EF 55 1, EF 60 19, EF 58 61 and EF 58 89, although the latter two are originally located at Tabata depot, plus several more locomotives on static display (Bo-Bo locos no. 1 to 3 built by Siemens and MAN, and ED 31 6). D 51 498 also runs steam trains along other JR East lines, as for example along the Ban'etsu-line (Koriyama to Aizu-Wakamatsu) on the first weekend in February. D 51 498 belongs to the D 51 class, of which 1115 locos were produced between 1936 and 1945. That is the largest number of all locomotives in Japan.
The trains are normally composed of blue and sometimes yellow cars (the latter having open observation platforms), which do not fit at all to the old steam locomotives.

Takasaki is a station on the Joetsu- and Nagano-Shinkansen, which can be reached in less than one hour from Tokyo.


Along the eastern coast of lake Biwa (near Kyoto), there are steam runs operated by JR West with the Umekoji-locomotives C 56 160 and sometimes C 57 1. The trains are called "Kita Biwa-ko Go" (Northern Lake Biwa) and run between Maibara and Kinomoto on some weekends:

train #1: Maibara lv: 9.30, Kinomoto ar: 10.17
train #2: Kinomoto lv: 11.02, Maibara ar: 11.42 as empty stock only! These times are "unofficial", but believed to be correct.
train #3: Maibara lv: 13.13, Kinomoto ar: 14.07
train #4: Kinomoto lv: 14.56, Maibara ar: 16.05

The trains also stop at Nagahama, Japan's oldest remaining station building.

They run on
November 1997: 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23, 24.
February: 14,15,21,22,28
March: 1,7,8
May: 3,5,9
August: 15,16,22,23
October: 10,11,17,18,24,25
February: 11,13,14,20,21,27,28
May 1,2,3,4,5, more dates not yet known
2000: not listed
April: 28,29
May: 4,5
August: 25,26
April: 27,29
May: 3,5
further dates: not yet known

blue dates: C 57 1 and C 56 160 double headed
brown dates: C 57 1

Maibara is a station on the Shinkansen-line between Nagoya and Kyoto. There is also much to see on the normal lines, as Maibara is the place where two electric systems (1500 V DC on the Tokaido-main-line and 20000 V AC on the Hokuriku-main-line) come together.

Also operated by JR West is the steam train "Flower Go", running on October 10, 11, 12 1997.
Takaoka lv. 9.36, Johana ar. 10.44
Johana lv. 12.06, Takaoka ar. 13.11


Since 29 April 1999, restored C 57 180 runs as "SL Ban'etsu Monogatari Go" between Niitsu (since 2002 from Niigata) and Aizu-Wakamatsu along JR East's Ban'etsu-West-line. ("Monogatari" means "story".) This is a very attractive train, my favorite steam train in Japan. There are also several longer stops on route, to take photos of the train standing at stations.

days of operation:
April: 29,30
May: 1,2,3,4,5,8,9,15,16,22,23,29,30
June: 5,6,12,13,19,20,26,27
July: 3,4,10,11,17,18,19,20,24,25,29,30,31
August: 1,2,3,6,7,8,14,15,21,22,23,24,27,28,29
September: 4,5,11,12,15,18,19,23,25,26
October: 2,3,9,10,11,16,17,23,24,30,31
November: 1,2,3,6,7,13,14,15,16,20,21,22,23,27,28
2000: not listed
April: 7,8,14,15,21,22,28,29,30
May: 3,4,5,6,12,13,19,20,26,27
June: 2,3,9,10,16,17,23,24,30
July: 1,7,8,14,15,20,21,22,26,27,28,29
August: 4,5,6,11,12,13,14,15,18,19,20,25,26,27
September: 1,2,8,9,15,16,22,23,24,29,30
October: 6,7,8,14,20,21,27,28
November: 3,4,10,11,17,18,23,24,25
December: 22,23,24
April: every Saturday, Sunday and public holiday, except 28
May: every Saturday, Sunday and public holiday, except 5, 26
June: every Saturday, Sunday, except 23
further dates not yet known

Niigata lv: 9.26, Aizu-Wakamatsu ar: 13.22
Aizu-Wakamatsu lv: 15.06, Niigata ar: 18.50
Niitsu lv: 10.00, Aizu-Wakamatsu ar: 13.18
Aizu-Wakamatsu lv: 15.00, Koriyama ar: 17.45
Koriyama lv: 10.15, Nanukamachi ar: 13.01
Aizu-Wakamatsu lv: 15.13, Niitsu ar: 18.24

JR East commenced the restoration project of steam engine C 57 180 in early March 1998. The C 57 180, Type C 57, [2C1] Pacific, built in 1946, has been on display since 1969 at the playground of an elementary school in Niitsu city, about 250 km north of Tokyo on the Sea of Japan coast, Niigata Prefecture. Responding to a strong request from the local community people who have long been desiring to run the engine again on the main track, JR East was determined to revive the C 57. The restauration work was started on 9 March 1998 at JR East's Omiya workshop.

Niitsu is a railway-oriented town located at a strategic point on the Shin'etsu main line where Ban'etsu-west and U'etsu main line branch. There used to be a steam engine depot and a steam workshop adjacent to Niitsu station (the workshop still exists dealing with DMUs and EMUs including production of new rolling stock of classes 209, 231 and also 10000 for the Sotetsu). The people in the area including some surrounding towns and villages have been more or less concerned with rail operations and therefore hold a strong affection for old railway features, especially steam trains. The engine, having been preserved in an under-roof environment, is in a quite good shape, because of the people's enthusiastic volunteering work that included periodical cleaning and fixing. This is reportedly one of the factors that enabled the realization of the restoration project of the C 57 180.

JR East operated a "SL Relay" train from Niigata to Niitsu and back, but as the steam train starts in Niigata since the 2002 season, this train is not needed anymore.


C 11 171 started operations on JR Hokkaido's Rumoi-line (from Fukagawa near Asahikawa) in May 1999. There is not much traffic on this line, presently 8 return workings a day. It is hoped to bring more traffic to this route by the SL trains. The locomotive C 11 171 was built by Kawasaki in 1940. The revival of this loco is connected to the television drama "Suzuran", filmed by NHK. Before the C 11 171 was ready to run, Mooka's C 12 66 came all the way up to Hokkaido, as filming started before C 11 171 was completely overhauled.

The SL will run:
May: 1,2,3,4,5,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,16,22,23,29,30
June: 5,6,19,20,26,27 (note: not 12,13)
July: 3,4,10,11,17,18,19,20,21,22,23,24,25,26,27,28,29,30,31
August: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20,21,22,28,29
September: 4,5,11,12,15,18,19,23,24,25,26
October: 2,3,9,10,11,16,17,23,24,30,31
November: 3
2000: not listed
June: 16,17,23,24,30
July: not listed
August: not listed until: 25,26
September: 1,2

Fukagawa lv: 9.10, Rumoi ar: 10.44, lv: 10.50, Mashike: ar: 11.12
Mashike lv: 12.05, Rumoi ar: 12.27, lv: 14.25, Fukagawa ar: 16.00

Red dates indicate that the C 11 171 is used for the NHK television drama "Suzuran".

The steam supplement is 800 Yen. Not all trains go as far as Mashike, some stop at Rumoi. The section between Rumoi and Mashike can not be reserved.

Fukagawa is close to Asahikawa and can be reached from Sapporo every 30 min by limited expresses "Super White Arrow" or "Rairakku" (please help for the correct romanisation!).


A second steam locomotive appeared in Hokkaido in October 2000: C 11 207 was rebuilt again. It is now running as "SL Niseko-go" from Sapporo to Niseko via Otaru and Kutchan. The loco pulls four carriages of classes 33, 42 and 47, built between 1948 and 1954. All carriages have been well refurbished and look very nice with a dark-blue colour. One car (o ha shi 47 2001) is equipped as a cafe car including a piano! Sorry, but there is no data on the age of the locomotive available. There is no turntable at Niseko.

The SL Niseko-go runs on weekends.

Sappro lv: 8.11, Niseko ar: 11.32 (some trains to Rankoshi, 11.58)
Niseko lv: 12.08, Sapporo ar: 17.37 (with a two-hour layover in Kutchan)

The train runs on the following days:
October: 7,8,9,11,12,13,14,15,16,18,19,20,21,22,23,25,26,27,28,29
November: 3,4,5,11,12,18,19,25,26
before September: not listed
September: 8,9,10,13,14,15,16,17,20,21,22,23,24,27,28,29,30
October: 6,7,8,13,14,20,21,27,28
November: 3,4,10,11,17,18,23,24,25

On the route from Sapporo to Niseko (Hakodate Main Line), steam locos of class C 62 [2C2] were used until 1971. Later C 62 3 was used for special trains, but operation was ceased in 1995. The Hakodate Main Line was the major route from Sapporo to Hakodate, when it was opened in 1904. However, in 1928 the Muroran Main Line was finished, thus making it much easier to go from Sapporo to Hakodate via Muroran. Therefore, today the Hakodate Main Line is not electrified between Otaru and Oshamambe (where it meets the Muroran Main Line), and there are only 7 trains per day on the least used section - taking 3 hours for 140 km.

The steam supplement is 400 Yen. All cars are non-smoking.

other small railways with steam operations (mainly theme parks)

Narita Yume Bokujo Railway

Fujikyu Highland Park: Thomas Land Maruseppu Ikoi-no-mori, Hokkaido Hokkaido Transportation Museum Western Mura Yanagawa Kibo-no-mori Park Green Pia (?) Nippon-matsu Musashino Mura Tokyo Disneyland Aichi Kodomo-no-kuni (Aichi Children's Land) Nobeyama SL Land Shuzenji Lomny Railway (Shuzenji niji-no-sato)
exact reading unknown: Lomny or Romunii or Romni or...

If you have some comments, or can help me with more facts, then please contact me. All information given here without any guarantee.

back to Transportation in Japan

back to Olivers Homepage