The Tokyo metro museum is a museum that will delight all fans of Japanese trains. The museum belongs to the Tokyo Metro company and is located in the Kasai area, east of the city. It stands out for its historic cars as well as for its dioramas, simulators and collections of objects. And if that were not enough, it has many explanations about the construction of the subway, technical and safety aspects, etc.
Of course, being the Tokyo Metro company, the museum does not mention the lines operated by Toei, which are also part of the current Tokyo metro network. However, this does not mean that we will not know the subway thoroughly. Because the first lines built were those of Tokyo Metro and, in addition, it is also the largest network.
The entrance to the museum is made as if we were in a subway station, buying the ticket in a machine like those of the stations. We will see, in the entrance hall, a small exhibition of car models of the different Tokyo Metro lines. Next, we will enter the museum itself, where we can learn more about the history of the Tokyo subway and its expansion. The first thing that will catch our attention in that first area is the presence of two historic cars and a reproduction of the Ueno station at the beginning of the 20th century.
In January 1863 London made history by inaugurating the world’s first metro line, a new means of urban transport. Soon many cities joined the initiative, as they grew, which also happened in the Japanese capital. In 1914, businessman Noritsugu Hayakawa traveled to London to learn more about the rail and port systems of Europe and the USA. Very impressed by the level of development of the London metro network, Hayakawa realized that a good metro network was indispensable for the future development of Tokyo. For this, he studied and intensively researched the meters of Europe and the USA.
Two years later he returned to Tokyo, where he studied the terrain and groundwater, as well as the volume of traffic at the intersections of Ueno, Ginza and other central points of the city. Despite the emergence of a strong opposition movement and also strong competition, Hayakawa secured sufficient funds to create the Tokyo Underground Railway Company. And on December 30, 1927, the first Tokyo subway line that connected the Ueno and Asakusa stations (2.2 km) was inaugurated, making its dream come true.
After this inauguration, the construction of the subway was stopped for more than 20 years, until it was resumed again in 1951. On January 20, 1954, the Marunouchi line between Ikebukuro and Ochanomizu was inaugurated and the subway quickly extended throughout the city.
At that time the trains circulated every three minutes and immediately began to be very full of passengers. In fact, from the early hours of the morning the Ueno station was already so full of people that passengers had to queue from the station’s lathes on Hirokoji Street and in front of Ueno Park. It is said that, normally, each passenger needed to wait at least an hour before boarding the train (something we can see even on the advertising posters of the time).
In this first section of the museum, dedicated to history, we will see an original model of a 1000 series car from 1927 and next to a 301 series car from the Marunouchi line of 1954.