Modelling Japan's Railways

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Modelling Japanese railways is not always easy when you live outside Japan, most model shops do not stock Japanese models and those who do usually have only a very limited selection. That does not mean that modelling the Japanese prototype is impossible. These pages may assist you in obtaining Japanese models and creating a Japanese-looking scenery for your personal or club layout. This page contains many links to manufacturers (their Web pages are usually in Japanese only) and shops who can supply Japanese items. When you live in Japan, life is much easier, as there are many model shops and department stores where you can buy models. Today there are a few specialist model shops who carry a useful selection of Japanese models and some can even order specific items for you.

Modelling scales in Japan.

A short overview of common railway modelling scales commonly used in Japan.

Manufactures of Japanese railway models

Today there are several mass-manufactured makes available to mainly N-scale modellers. There is also a high number of small manufacturers who make their products, mainly from etched brass. These brass models are beautiful, but as usual, beauty has to be paid for. HO-scale is less popular due to the lack of space in most Japanese homes. Tomix and Kato both have a small range of HO-scale items which are top-quality, other HO is usually made in small quantities and at high prices. This page gives an overview of what's available. The list is by no means complete.

 Items of interest

The links below lead to articles written by myself or others, all articles cover a specific area of interest.

news the modelling news page, filled with news on Japanese model railways, new products, events etc.

Control of Japanese model railways

All Japanese railway models run on 12V DC, international standards on polarity do apply, so no surprises. DCC is not yet accepted on a wide scale in Japan, Kato is most active in DCC and has a co-operation with Digitrax. 

yr Control equipment for your 12 V DC model trains, not necessarily japanese prototype.

yr Digital Command Control, what it is, what it could do and some history on command control systems.

yr Tomix train and accessory control equipment in detail.

yr Kato train control equipment, an overview of what is, was and could have been available.

Modelling convention

In Japan modelling conventions are a recent development. Starting in 2000, the JAM organised two conventions until so far. Other exhibitions are held in department stores, hired rooms etc. One of our reporters attended the 2001 JAM convention. Click on the header for a more extensive report.

JAM 2002 convention

For the 3rd time the JAM organised this exhibition in Tokyo. Click on 'JAM 2002 Convention' for a report.

Track for Japanese model trains (N-scale only)

An overview of N-scale track systems and their use with Japanese N-scale models.

yrmark A series of articles about maintainance of your Japanese model trains.

yrmark Model trams could be an extension of your model railway or a modelling project of their own. There's a choice of japanese prototypes available.

yr Taiwanese prototype model trains are a special interest. Taiwan has a railway systems that has a character not unlike that of Japan. In Taiwan trains built in the USA, Japan, Taiwan, Korea and South Africa all run together on the same system!

linkrink Where to buy?

A few model shops and individuals have taken the plunge and can supply Japanese models outside Japan. Most of them are located in Australia, the USA or the UK. Most run a mail order service.

yr dm toys In Germany you can get Japanese railway models from DM-Toys. Open to everyone. Highly recommended!  

yr 1999 Hobby Search is a Japanese mail order business. Reasonable selection of mainstream manufacturers, including HO scale.

yr Railcraft Awaza is a good site to spot new Japanse model railway products. Japanese language.

In the USA, some Japanese stuff is available from the following suppliers, all run a mail order service.

yrmark N-Scale Supply is doing some Kato, Tomix and Micro Ace.

yrmark New Hall Station is a new name to me. They have a good selection of Kato, Tomix and Micro Ace. Based in California, USA.

yr M.B. Klein, one of the oldest models shops in the US, can supply most of the Kato and Tomix buildings. Loads of other stuff available.

linkrink Direct links to manufacturers

Listed below are some direct links to Japanese railway model manufacturers. Only a few pages are in English. Clicking on the logo or the name will take you directly to the manufacturer's website.

Kato have set up a Japanese homepage. Available in both Japanese and English.

Kato have also set up a website for their US-outline customers, a few items could be of interest for those modelling Japanese outline

tomix logo Tomix have an extensive website, unfortunately it is only in the Japanese language.

Green Max offers kits of many EMU's and structures and lots of seperate parts like bogies, pantographs etc.

hasegawa logo Hasegawa, the parent company of Modemo Modemo offers a selection of modern and older Japanese trams and some JR EMU's in N-scale. In H0 scale Modemo offers fine tram kits. Japanese language only.

Micro Ace offers a wide range of N-scale rolling stock. Steam locos are theri speciality, but electric and diesel locos and MU's have been added to this rapidly growing range. Japanese language only.

 popondetta Popondetta took over the Kawai range after Kawai went out of business.

ddflogo Diorama Display Factory makes ready-made scenics, custom-built scenics built to order are also possible.

World Kogei makes N-scale brass kits and completed models, pages are in Japanese only.

Endo also have their website. (Japanese only).

Hand-made brass models are made by KTM, beautiful, but expensive. (Japanese language)

Tenshodo is a company that makes jewelry for him and her, brass models for him, other shiny stuff for her. Their main store is in Ginza, Tokyo.

yr real line logo Real Line is a manufacturer of outstanding N-scale steam loco models. These could easily be taken for HO-scale when judging from the pictures!

Train offers die-cast 'models' of many Japanese trains. Scale is about 1:150. These models are not very detailed and meant as collectables rather than operational models.

yr One Mile One Mile is another manufacturer of 1:150 die-cast models. They also make very nice 1:80 scale model buses.

K's Worksoffer detailing parts and a few kits.

King's Hobby offer locomotive kits and detail parts. Not cheap

Platz Hobby have a range of containers,  kits and accesories.

Shinkasha have a range of kits, detail parts and decals. Site includes some prototype photos.

Win offer kits and some ready-to-run items.

Modelnics offer something special, 5-inch gauge models for ride-on use.

DigiQ TRAIN by Konami. Infra-red controlled toy trains. About N-scale size, I could see other use for the control electronics.

yr ginga model  Ginga Model supplies etched-metal detail parts and wires that fit the catenary supports made bu Tomix and Kato.

LazyJack offers brass kits of signals, coach parts etc. in 1/80 and 1/87 scales and a few 1/150 scale coach parts. Those signals look awesome!

Hogarakadou offers models of Japanese freight containers, that can be used on your container cars. Attractive are the colourful liveries of these containers.

yr Flor Verde offers a range of beautiful laser-cut card kits of stations and other railway buildinds. These are made after actual prototypes, unlike the kits offered by Kato, Tomix etc.

zoukei mura Zoukei Mura offers finescale models of aircraft, military vehicles and most important all: H0-scale model trains.

yrmark  Tsugawa makes cars (both modern and 1960s) and a range of scenic accessories.

yr Kabuto Models offers 3D printed detail parts that add that final bit of flavour to yor layout or diorama. A model of the Utrecht 'Sneltram' (light rail) is also offered.

yr kyodo Kyodo makes signals and signal parts in N, H0, S and O scales. Japanese and American prototypes.

yr tramway Tramway offers handmade models in HO (1/80 or 16 scale).

Products of interest, not necessarily Japanese

Click here for some links to manufacturers of interesting model railway and modelling products.

Text by Mark Veneman

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