Class D51 Mikado Locomotives Preserved in Japan

Although the 2-8-2 “Mikado” type steam locomotive first made an appearance in Japan in the late 19th century, it wouldn’t be until 1936 that the Class D51 Mikado steam locomotive would hit the rails. The term Mikado means ‘Emperor’ in Japanese and these locomotives quickly established their dominance on Japanese rails. A total of 1164 locomotives featuring the D51 design were produced, including 49 that were for other countries. Today, there are approximately 174 of these locomotives preserved in Japan. Let’s look at where some of these notable locomotives are currently.

Operational D51 Locomotives in Japan

There are a total of five operational D51 Mikado steam locomotives in Japan:

LocomotiveLocation and Operation Information
#146SL Mooka Rail Museum- Shimodate, Tochigi.
#200Kyoto Railway Museum (operated by West Japan Railway Company)
#498Tasaki Locomotive Shops (operated by West Japan Railway Company)
#320‘Abira Roadside Station’. Abira, Iburi. Runs on compressed air only.
#827Aridagawa Railway Park, Wakayama. Runs on compressed air only.

D51 200 steaming up during a test
#200 steaming up during a test. (Photo: Cheng-en Cheng via CC by 2.0)

Museum Preserved D51s

There are several preserved D51 locomotives that can be seen on static display at various museums throughout the country:

LocomotiveDisplay Information
#1Umekoji Steam Locomotive Museum- Kyoto
#2Tsuyama Railway Museum- Tsuyama, Okayama
#96Usui Pass Railway Heritage Museum- Annaka, Gunma
#125Funabashi Historical Museum- Funabashi, Chiba
#201Gamagori Museum- Gamagori, Aichi
#231National Museum of Nature and Science- Tokyo
#244Children’s Museum. Kitakyushu, Fukuoka
#408Town Museum. Kawasaki, Kanagawa
#946Coal and Fossils Museum- Iwaki, Fukushima
D51 231 is now on static display in Tokyo.
#231 sits on static display in Tokyo. (Photo: Lerk via CC by 3.0)

Static Displays at Train Stations

Several of these steam giants have been preserved and placed on static display outside or nearby operating train stations throughout the country. These locomotives remind visitors on a daily basis of how rail travel has evolved over the last century.

LocomotiveStation Location
#170Yatake Station- Hitoyoshi, Kumamoto
#194Tsuwano Station- Shimane
#745Minakami Station- Minakami, Gunma
#774Former Taisha Station- Izumo, Shimane
#775Kiso-Fukushima Station- Nagano
#822Matto Station- Ishikawa
#1072Kobe Station- Hyogo
D51 745 is one of a handful of Mikados that are preserved near rail stations in Japan.
D51 #745 greets visitors to the Minakami Station. (Photo: Rubber Soul via CC by 2.5)

Unusual Static Display Locations

In order to help preserve the history of these Mikados, many found static display homes in unusual locations, including zoos and ski resorts among others. Below is a list of some of the unusual locations where these locomotives ended up.

LocomotiveDisplay Information
#6Community Park- Asahikawa, Hokkaido
#10Community Center- Yukuhashi, Fukuoka
#66Kawanishi Elementary School- Kyoto
#68Koiwai Farm- Iwata
#95Shintoku Ski Resort- Shintoku, Hokkaido
#155Displayed outside city offices in Shiojiri, Hagano.
#158Community Center- Ibaraki, Osaka.
#187East Japan Railways Shops- Saitama
#194Tsuwano Station- Tsuwano, Shimane
#211Oji Zoo- Kobe, Hyogo
#232Omoriyama Zoo- Akita
#395Tokuyama Zoo- Shunan, Yamaguchi
#401Suzaka Zoo- Nagano
#402Community Center- Iida, Nagano
#409Yamazaki Mazak Corp factory- Gifu
#549Displayed outside of an elementary school- Nagano
#561Ski Resort- Kawaba, Gunma
D51 6 on the other hand has been preserved and placed on static display in a public park.
#6 sits on display at a park in Hokkaido. (Photo: 100yen via CC by 3.0)

Final Thoughts

Although there are only a few Mikados from the class that still operate today, the impact of the class has been preserved throughout the country. If you ever find yourself in the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’ and want to see one of these historic steam giants up close, you likely won’t have to travel too far thanks to the preservation efforts.

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