By Rey Waters
This is a relatively new museum but even before it opened it was well known and in the news. I was eager to visit but decided to wait so as to avoid the crowds. After a few months, I finally got a chance to visit one weekday. I thought: “Now I can take a look freely and quietly.” But that expectation was betrayed.
I had to wait in a long line before the entrance! That is the Hara Model Railway Museum in Yokohama. Would you like to know why this museum draws so many visitors?
This museum is a dream for all generations but especially for boys. When you first step inside, I promise that you will be astonished to see so many model railways from all over the world. They are like treasures in a toy box. Your surprise will be doubled when you find that most of these crafted model railways have been made by just one person; Nobutaro Hara. Yes, these exhibits are all his.
He loved trains so much when he was very young that he started to make models of them. This collection consists not only of railway models but also railway photos, tickets and other related items too. In this museum, unique episodes about Nobutaro Hara and trains are scattered all around the premises. For example, in one story young Nobutaro asked his grandmother to buy a model for him but the price was worth a prime minister’s monthly salary at that time. His enthusiasm for knowing the technology of railways made him learn French and German. He has not only duplicated railways as small models but also duplicated their sounds. He is also a ticket collector; he often is the first in line at new stations to get the first sold ticket. One time he could not get one of those tickets because he had a business trip that day. Instead (the lovely story goes) his wife waited on line from a few days before and got it for him! I am sure you will be interested in these kinds of stories as well as in the gorgeous model railways and other related items and collections. Through them you will see that this man is not an ordinary guy!
But the area here that will most catch your eye is the Ichiban Tetumo Park in the final part of the museum. Here, you can see some of his model railways running on a giant diorama representing Lyon Station in France, with European streets and landscapes. The view is so spectacular that not only children but adults as well cannot leave it. Also, the lights on the ceiling turn from day to night and creating a wonderful mood. So women will also be attracted to these beautiful scenes.
I am not a rail fan, but I really enjoyed this museum, not only from seeing the great variety of model railways, but also from seeing how one man’s curiosity and dreams were able to create something as wonderful as this museum. How happy he is to find something he can devote his whole life to. Not everyone can be as lucky as him. This is a museum that shows the magic of an extraordinary man’s inquiring mind.
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