About the Hara Model Railway Museum

The Hara Model Railway Museum will open in Yokohama, where Japan's first railway started.

On Tuesday, July 10, 2012, the Hara Model Railway Museum will open in Yokohama, where Japan's first railway started.

The museum opens to the public a massive collection of models trains, said to be the largest in the world, made and possessed by Nobutaro Hara. The collection also includes many railway collectables other than the model trains.

One of the features of Hara's models is that they recreate cars from Japan, Europe, the United States, and other places around the globe. From steam locomotives to electric locomotives, those tell of an age when railways were making tremendous advances.
With those models, visitors can enjoy the world's railways without ever leaving Yokohama.

Another feature of Hara's models is that they faithfully recreate real trains. They draw power from overhead lines and run on iron rails with iron wheels. One area museum visitors should take notice of is the click-clack sounds the model trains make.
You can hear the same sound as real trains as they go over the joints between track sections. Running models are made possible by incorporating the same technologies as real trains, even if those cannot be seen from the outside. Such technologies include gears, leaf springs, bearings, swing bolsters, brakes and more. At the museum, you can enjoy gauge one (1:32 scale) model trains incorporating those technologies running on one of the world's largest indoor dioramas.

When hearing of railway technological innovations, Hara would demonstrate his passion for railways and technologies by going places around the world to actually see, ride, and record railways with still photos and 16mm movie film that were rare when Hara first started taking his records . The museum shows off some of the vast array of railway and travel memorabilia he collected as well at technical documents. You will be amazed at how the technologies covered in those documents are actually incorporated in model railways.

The many models and other materials that Hara has collected are valuable in terms of railway history and modern industrial history. They can also be said to demonstrate "dreams of travel," "adoration for unknown worlds," and "dreams of new industries" brought about by the "cutting-edge technology of the time" exemplified by railways.

Come to the Hara Model Railway Museum and see for yourself the wonder of railways.

Museum overview

Name Hara Model Railway Museum
Opening date July 10, 2012
Floor space Approx. 1,700m2
Exhibit space Approx. 1,200m2
Total cars in collection Approx. 1,500
Gauge one diorama area Approx. 310m2

Profile of Nobutaro Hara

Nobutaro Hara

Born in Shiba, Tokyo on April 4, 1919, Hara attended Keio Gijuku from kindergarten through high school before entering the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Science at Tokyo Institute of Technology to study railway technology. He was then conscripted into the military after graduation.

After World War II, Hara was in charge of development and technology at stationery company Kokuyo Co., Ltd. where he conducted much development in automating machinery. While at Kokuyo, he developed technologies that made an impact on the era as well as the company. Those included the world's first multi-tier automated warehouse and an automated full-scale manufacturing line. After serving as executive director, then as president of a production affiliate and finally as corporate consultant, Hara retired from Kokuyo. At retirement, he donated to Kokuyo more than 300 patents that he had applied for or held personally. Hara used his retirement allowance to found The Hara Research Foundation to support a new generation of scientific and technical researchers. Currently, he serves as chairman of that foundation and honorary trustee of San Francisco University.
Hara's love of railways started when he was very young. He was collecting the first tickets issued for certain trains and making long trips, camera in hand, while in elementary school. In an era when not everything could be found on a store shelf, Hara made his first model at age 13. And he learned German and French so he could read books on railway technology. Throughout the turbulent war and postwar era and the recovery and high growth period, Hara maintained an interest in railways and technology. He has traveled around the world, creating and collecting models. To date, he has visited 380 countries and has a collection that encompasses approximately 6,000 model train cars, 100,000 still photos, and 440 hours of film. Hara has also collected many railway books and related items.

Author of: Hara Nobutaro Tetsudo Mokei no Subete (Nobutaro Hara's All about Model Railways), Seibundo Shinkosha and Super Tetsudo Mokei Waga Shogai Doraku (Super Model Railways: My Lifetime Hobby), Kodansha Shinsho

Nobutaro Hara