Not too long ago, Hashi wrote a post about Japan and its love for trains. However, there is an area of train otaku-ness yet to be explored by the Tofugu team. That area is the wonderful world of model trains. Model trains aren’t quite as popular a hobby as they used to be, but for one Japanese man by the name of Nobutaro Hara, model trains are a huge deal. He’s reached the upper echelon of supreme model train collecting and has dubbed his home the “Shangri-La Train Museum.” Even if you’re not into model trains, this museum of his is very, very impressive.
Nobutaro Hara the Man, the Legend
Mr. Hara is incredibly famous in the world of model trains. Everybody who’s anybody knows him. He was born in 1919 and constructed his first model train at age 13. The rest, my friends, is history. He’s spent his whole life being a successful engineer by day, and an avid model train builder and collector by night.
Over the years he’s built up an immensely impressive collection of trains and landscapes that he’s largely put together himself. Almost all of the 1/30 to 1/45 scale models were hand built entirely by Mr. Hara. There are a handful of models that he contracted out to Korean firms for the body casings, but the electronics are all his own (thanks to his engineering experience). It’s very impressive. Just check out the video below and keep in mind that this was all done by one guy.
Is that not insane? I can’t imagine even putting one of these model trains together, let alone a whole city. The details and everything are just so perfect. It’s crazy. You can almost imagine that it really is a fully functioning miniature city.
The Hara Model Railway Museum
Up until now, his collection was only shown on a case by case appointment basis, so this summer marks the first time his amazing collection will be open to the general public. The Hara Model Railway Museum officially opens tomorrow (July 10th) in Yokohama, Japan. The museum is operated by property developers Mitsui Fudosan and it will be showing off 1,000 models from Mr. Hara’s expansive collection.
The head of Mitsui Fudosan’s Yokohama branch explained that the objective of the museum is to “teach people of all ages about the wonders of technology through model trains.” Now, I don’t know about you, but I think the trains themselves are only a small part of what’s so impressive about the museum. As you can see from the videos, the scenery and landscapes are just beautiful. It’s really a work of art.
Mr. Hara’s son, Kento, explained that the joys of being a child were never far from his father’s mind and he hopes that this youthful spirit will be conveyed in the museum. I wholeheartedly believe that he has more than achieved this goal. Just look at it all. If you aren’t filled with a keen sense of childlike wonderment, then I don’t know what to tell you. Someone must have broken your childhood and the ability to marvel at really awesome hobby toys taken to the extreme.
An Inspiring Tale
If you haven’t already gathered it by now, I think all of this is pretty awesome. Nobutaro Hara is pushing 100 years old, and he’s putting his life’s work on display for all to enjoy. He’s put in decades of work, thousands of hours, and tons of love and dedication into this hobby of his. In the model train world, he has everyone’s respect and admiration and he certainly deserves every ounce of it. I’m sure Mr. Hara is a humble man, but having everyone marvel at his amazing work must make him pretty proud.
I felt really inspired while reading about Mr. Hara and his lifelong passion for model trains and all the work he’s put into this museum, even more so when I watched the videos and saw it all in action. It really is a sight to behold. It just goes to show that you’re never too old for a hobby, and if you really love something, you should pursue and dedicate yourself to it no matter what. And hey, maybe one day someone will make a museum out of it. You never know.
Were you inspired by Mr. Hara’s story? What hobby do you plan to still be enjoying when you’re 100? Do you wish you lived in Japan so you could check out this super awesome museum of his? I sure do. Share your thoughts in the comments!