Japan has three major railway museums. Nagoya highlights Shinkansen, Saitama does a good job with history. This museum really emphasizes how a train and steam engines work. They break down the train into its components and explain each part in detail. Including things like how the ticket machines work.
Located across the parking lot from the Umekōji-Kyōtonishi Station. Easily accessible from Kyoto Station. This used to be the steam locomotive museum until it merged with the Osaka Railway Museum a few years ago and was rebranded as the Kyoto Railway Museum.
On the same property, there is an actual train roundhouse, full of different model trains that you can go inside.
There is an actual working steam locomotive for an extra 300 yen, you can ride for about 10 minutes. You are warned, that if the winds are right, you will get a mouthful of soot.
The actual main building has representations for all the major types of trains currently running, including the bullet train but the cool bits are at the back of the building where each component is broken down and displayed with working models. The electrical guides, the wheels, the engine design, and the power couplings. You can wander through the cab and even push the emergency stop button.
The 2F has a huge train diorama with shows. This is worth watching. There are many activities for children on this floor. An interesting activity that seemed popular for children was the train conductor simulator. There are also historical exhibits on this floor.
If there is a complaint to make about this museum is the relative lack of food options. There is a restaurant on the 2F, today the lineup was so long it was discouraging. There is a bento kiosk at the beginning of the tour near the entryway but they also were running out of food by 12:30 pm. There should be another option. Lots of vending machines.
Because this is a JR-sponsored facility, they ONLY accept CASH or the ICOCA card as payment. Credit cards or other forms of cashless payments are not available.
If you are a train buff, you need to go. If you are even a little interested in trains, it's worth coming. Well designed for children. Your kids will love this place.
As an older adult, I loved it.