Kaya staion

Nostalgic architecture behind the platform is the former Kaya station from 1923, which now serves as the museum's archive.

The Kaya Steam Locomotive Square (Kaya SL Hiroba)

By Anthony Robins

UPDATE: - This museum permanently closed on the 31st March 2020.

Apart from its numerous locomotives on plinths, Japan has a number of outdoor railway museums. Among them are Ome (West of Tokyo) and Sakuma Railpark (Iida Line - visited by the second JRS tour to Japan - NOW CLOSED). I recently had an opportunity to visit another, the 'Kaya Steam Locomotive Square', located in the north of Kyoto Prefecture.

The museum takes its name from a local private line (never electrified) which ran for sixty years until closure in 1985. In fact the museum was located at the line's terminus from 1977 to 1996 and the previous site is passed by the bus which links the museum with the nearest railhead, Nodagawa (Tango-Yamada in JNR days) on the third-sector Kita Kinki Tango Railway. The route of the old line is easy to see, as it is now a cycleway.

Now, the museum is located further on inland and features a station, two shops (souvenirs and bakery) and a coffee shop in a former Tokyu EMU car. The latter is a good place to pass the time if you go on the first bus, which arrives before the museum's opening at 10.00. Preeminent among the exhibits is Robert Stephenson built No.2 (2105), a 2-4-0 tank from 1873, which together with 'Ha 4995' (built at Shimbashi Workshops in 1893) stands at one face of the station platform. At the other face is Nippon Sharyo built 1261, an 0-6-0 tank from 1923. These, together with Kawasaki built No.4, another 0-6-0 from two years earlier and larger C57 189 and C58 390, are the steam line-up. No.4, like many of the other exhibits is placed around the museum's turntable, over which a short children's narrow gauge line runs.

Other exhibits include a line-up of four railcars and two small diesel locomotives (DB201/2), with the former 'in use' on the day I was there. 1202 is a Nankai EMU car from 1933. In Nankai's smart former two-tone green livery, it makes a nice contrast to the black steam locomotives, brown wooden carriages and bright red and white liveried JNR era railcars. In fact, in spite of being exposed to the elements, as they were on the day of my visit, most exhibits are in good external condition. The C57 and C58 are in need of attention though. Photography is made easier by the greater space and background vista, compared for example with Sakuma Railpark.

I reached the museum via the Kita-Kinki Tango Railway from Toyooka (JR West's San-In Main Line) but it could be reached in a day trip from either Osaka or Kyoto, changing at Fukuchiyama and again at Miyaji. As mentioned, buses link the museum with Nodagawa. However, they are not very frequent. Entrance is 400, open daily from 10:00 - 17:00.

Steam locomotive #2 from 1873

#2, 2-4-0 tank, is one of the oldest locomotive preserved in Japan. It was imported from Great Britain in 1873 to be used for the first railway between Osaka and Kobe. The #2 worked until 1956 on the Kaya Railway Line.

Nippon Sharyo made 1261

Nippon Sharyo 1923 built #1261, 0-6-0, 32.7 tons. Behind the engine is a wooden two-axle coach and baggage car.

A view of the square

A view of the square with old railway equipment. Behind the turntable is a Ki-100 type snowplough from the former national railway.

A side view of #2

A side view of a combination of antique equipment of #2 and a wooden two-axle coach built at Shimbashi Workshops in 1893.

Steam #4

Kawasaki 1921 built #4, 0-6-0, 27.2 tons.

1202 is a Nankai EMU car from 1933

Beside Ha-10, a 1926 built wooden second-third class coach, is a 1933 built EMU from Nankai Electric Railway.

Fuha 2 coach

Fuha 2, 1916 built wooden two-axle coach, is preserved in working order.

Gasolin car KIha 101

Nippon Sharyo 1936 built Kiha 101 gasoline car has a baggage deck in front and uses a single bogie associated with a single axle at the other end.

Switcher DB-201

1953 built 10-ton type shunter DB-201. This little engine is in operation and attracts visitors by hauling the Fuha-2 coach.

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