Umekōji Steam Engine Museum

Please note: This article was prepared many years ago and before the decision was taken by JR West to combine this famous roundhouse and museum in Kyōto with the collection of the now closed Modern Transport Museum from Bentenchō in Ōsaka with a more modern and larger museum incorporating the collection here.

Anthony Robins
Hiroshi Naito

Umekōji in Kyōto first opened as a shed in 1914 and for a long time was a major engine depot on the heavy Tōkaidō main line with a roudhouse. To commemorate the hundredth anniversary of railways in Japan, it became a museum and opened as such in October 1972. It features the following locomotives (in chronological order):

  1. 8630

    Type 8620, 2-6-0, 48.8 tonnes, built by Kisha in 1914. The 8620, nicknamed Hachiroku (Eight-six), became the first domestic standard. Its duties were mainly for passenger work. 687 8620s were produced for 17 years.

  2. 9633

    Type 9600, 2-8-0, 60,4 tonnes, built by Kawasaki in 1914. The 9600, nicknamed Kyuroku (Nine-six), became a domestic standard as well as 8620, but this class was for freight-haulingas. 770 Kyurokus were produced.

    No less than 50 others of this 9600 type are preserved as static exhibits, including three in China.

  3. D50 140

    Type D50, 78.1 tonnes, 2-8-2 built by Hitachi in 1926. Formed basis for the D51 type. It was the first domestic Mikado and became a second generation standard like the C51. Its duties were mainly freight hauling. Photo by Paul Moylan.

  4. C51 239

    Type C51, 69.6 tonnes, 4-6-2 built by Kisha in 1927. It was the first domestic Pacific and, as the second standardized engine, displaced all of the US made 8900 class, which was the first Pacific in Japan, from express-hauling duties on the Tōkaidō main line. 289 of this type were built by 1923.

  5. C53 45

    Type C53, 4-6-2, 81 tonnes, three-cylinder built by Kisha in 1928. One of 97 in the class built by Kisha (44) and Kawasaki (53) between 1928 and1930. C53 45 entered service in November 1928 and worked on semi-fasts and expresses on the Tōkaidō and Sanyō Main Lines. It was progressively allocated to Hamamatsu, Hiroshima, Maibara, Miyahara, Nagoya, Ogori, Shimonoseki and Shizuoka. It finished service at Umekōji in June 1950. Others were withdrawn between 1948 and 1950.

    After retirement, it was in the custody of JNR Takatori works in Kōbe. In 1962, as one of the commemorative projects for the 90th anniversary of Japanese railways, it was restored to its original form to be an exhibit at the newly opened Ōsaka Transport Museum. Prior to transfer, it was operated on the main line around Kōbe-Ōsaka-Kyōto. In 1972, upon opening of the Umekōji Museum, it was finally settled in the Umekōji roundhouse.

    The following photos were taken at Ōsaka Transport Museum in 1963 by Hiroshi Naito.

  6. C55 1

    Type C55, 4-6-2, 66 tonnes, built by Kawasaki in 1934. It has spoke type wheels as opposed to others which are more similar to Bulleid's designs. 21 out of 62 C55s first featured as streamliners, but later they were all converted to a regular boiler form. This light Pacific formed the first modern steam and led to the emergence of the popular C57 class.

  7. C11 64

    2-6-4 tank built by Kawasaki in 1935. A large class constructed between 1932 and 1947, members were used throughout Japan on local duties. The Oigawa Railway operates two in working order and another 50 are static exhibits throughout Japan.

  8. D51 1/D51 200

    Two of 1115 2-8-2s built between 1936 and 1945. The class was Japan's first standardized modern engine, as well as C57, and was used mainly for freight service. They were built by five companies: Kawasaki (D51 1 from 1936), Kisha (Seizo), Hitachi, Mitsubishi and Nippon Sharyo, as well as JNR (D51 200 from 1938) itself. They weigh 78.4 tonnes, had a top speed of 85 km/h and have dome variations. D51 200 is in JR West's operational fleet, as is D51 498 in the case of JR East, at Takasaki. 178 others are exhibited at various places around Japan.

  9. C58 1

    Type C58, 2-6-2, 58.7 tonns, built between 1938 and 1947 by Kawasaki and Kisha. The class was developed as a standardized general purpose engine. Duties were both passenger and freight train hauling on local light lines, including work on the Yamanote Freight Line in Tōkyō. 427 C58s were produced.

  10. B20 10
    0-4-0 tank, 20 tonnes, built by Tateyama Heavy Industries in 1946. The role of this class was as switchers inside engine depots. 15 B20s were manufactured.

  11. D52 468

    Type D52, 2-8-2, 85.1 tonnes, built by Mitsubishi in 1946. Six others are static exhibits around Japan. The D52 class was the most powerful steam in Japan. This type was first produced during war time (in 1943) and 285 were built in total.

  12. C59 164

    Type C59, 4-6-2, 80.3 tonnes, built by Hitachi in 1946. Class first introduced in 1941 as the forth generation standardized modern engine following D51, C57 and C58. 100 C59s were built before the war and 73 more were additionally manufactured between 1946 and 1947 after the war.

  13. C61 2

    Type C61, 4-6-4, 79.5 tonnes, built by Mitsubishi in 1948 as Japan's first Hudson. One of 33 of a class introduced between 1947 and 1953. They combined a D51 boiler with elements from the C57 class. New wheel arrangement reduced the weight on the traction axles of the class, thus allowing the engine to serve lighter lines. C61 2 is in JR West's operational fleet.
    Top Speed: 100km/h

  14. C62 1/C62 2

    Type C62, 4-6-4, 88.8 tonnes, was the heaviest passenger steam. A fleet of 49 Hudsons converted from D52s between 1948 and 1953. Both C62 1 (D52 74) and C62 2 (D52 455) date from 1948 and were constructed by Hitachi. C62 2 is in working order, as was JR Hokkaido's C62 3 until recently. They often hauled the glorious limited-express 'Tsubame' on the Tōkaidō main line (Tōkyō-Kōbe) during its non-electrified period. After electrification, they were transferred to Hokkaido island, and often hauled express 'Niseko' (Sapporo-Hakodate) until the final stage of steam days.
    Top Speed: 100 km/h

    Two more locomotives are based here, but often running on the Hokuriku Line from Maibara or the Yamaguchi Line from Ogori:
Photos in this page by Kiyoshi Shinozawa unless specified.

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