Japanese Model Trains And Trams Are Lots Of Fun!
by Bryan Carey

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About four years ago I discovered Japanese N Scale model trains. It was during a visit to a local hobby store in Sydney, Australia. I’d never seen a Japanese model train before and I thought that they looked fantastic. The ‘Shinkansen’ fast trains really captured my imagination and encouraged me to investigate Japanese N Scale modeling further.

My First Japanese Layout
During the next two months I did a lot of research to learn more about the hobby. Finally I ordered some track and trains so I could get started. My first Japanese train was a Shinkansen, Nozomi JR 500 made by ‘Kato’. It was a great feeling to run the model for the first time. I was really impressed with the performance and soon decided to add more model trains to my collection. All the trains I purchased at this stage were either made by Kato or ‘Tomix’.

I quickly found that ‘Tomytec’ made a range of affordable of buildings for Japanese model train layouts. I started with just two on my first layout. Now I have a collection of sixty Tomytec buildings. They really add the Japanese theme to my layouts. Tomytec also make a great range of vehicles and figures to add to your layout scenes. I also use structures from other makers as well. Tomix and Kato both make various styles of buildings that are ideal for modeling.

In just over two months I was able to complete my first model train layout. It was quite satisfying and it only took me around 10-12 hours a week to build. During the process I found out that I really enjoyed the hobby. It was a great way to relax and have fun.

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A Japanese Kato Unitrak Tram Layout - “Little Tokyo"
My next layout featured some of the Japanese model trams from the Enoshima, Toden Arakawa and Setagaya Lines in Tokyo. These models are made by ‘Modemo’ who make a wide variety of Japanese trams. I used a simple ‘snap’ together track called ‘Unitrack’ made by Kato. It is one of the two types of track used in Japan. It is also available in many other places in the world.

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A Japanese Tomix Fine Track Layout - “Inaka”
I mostly used Modemo trams for my next Japanese layout which I called “Inaka”. The theme was a fictional rural railroad based on the Nagoya Railway in Gifu. It mainly focused on the older styles of trams used in the region. For this layout I used Tomix ‘Fine Track’. This track has a special type called ‘Mini Rail’ which uses smaller radius curves. It is ideally suited to tram layouts. Tomix track is only sold in Japan but can be ordered over the internet.

     
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Toyama Portram Micro Layouts
Another area of Japanese model trams that I like, are the latest Toyama Portram and Centram low floor LRV’s. These models are made by both Tomytec and Kato. For these models I decided to make three “micro” layouts. Each layout measured 30” x 20” and featured a different area: city, suburbs and tram depot. Micro model tram layouts are common in Japan and well suited to the space constraints in most homes.

     
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The Latest Tram Layout
I have just finished building a new layout that features space for up to eight trams. It reuses the buildings from previous layouts which keeps the cost down. All of my layouts use temporary scenery which allows me to easily change and dismantle them.

   
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My Next Layout
Next I’m planning a layout built with Kato Unitrack that will feature some of the Japanese trains I’ve recently added to my collection. It will mainly feature Shinkansen’s, Express trains, diesel locos and some freight cars. Without doubt, I still find Japanese model trams and trains are a lot of fun!

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More details about my Japanese train and tram modeling activities are available on my website: http://www.conceptmodeltrains.com.au/

all text and photos copyright 2011 by Bryan Carey


 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
   


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