Japan’s oldest domestic bus is now on display at a Nagoya museum

Japan’s oldest surviving domestic bus is part of a new exhibit at the JR Tokai Maglev & Railway Museum in Nagoya. In fact, it’s so significant that it was the first bus to be designated as an important cultural asset by the National Council for Cultural Affairs. Called the Japan National Railways Bus No.1, it began service in 1930.

The museum is operated by Japan Railways Central, which operates many of the trains and shinkansen that run through the middle of the country. It’s not uncommon for major rail lines to operate other businesses branching out from major stations, including restaurants, entire department stores, as well as their own buses.

In December 1930 the JNR bus began operations on the Okata Line, running 35.4 miles between Okazaki and Tajimi and 5.4 miles between the Seto Memorial Bridge and Kozoji. Built by Tokyo Gas & Electric, the TGE MP could carry 20 passengers, which was considered large for its time. TGE later merged with Ishikawajima Motors and became Isuzu.

There are older buses in Japan, such as Wolesley models from the UK assembled as licensed knock-down kits. However, JNR specifically adopted domestically built buses like the TGE MP in order to foster Japan’s auto industry.

The Maglev & Railway museum looks to be a welcome stop for all transportation buffs, whether you’re a trainspotter or bus maniac. It’s fitting that this old motorcoach be displayed alongside other significant modes of transport like Japan’s legendary bullet train. If you find yourself in Nagoya, the exhibit runs through January 29, 2024.

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5 Responses to Japan’s oldest domestic bus is now on display at a Nagoya museum

  1. Toyotageek says:

    I visited the JR Tokai Maglev & Railway Museum in Nagoya a few years back. It happened to be my birthday the day we visited, as well as some Shinkansen anniversary that was taking place. In honor of both events the horn of the Shinkansen 0 series engine was sounded off at noon. Memorable! I highly recommend a visit to the museum for anyone visiting Nagoya.

  2. Tachikawaboy says:

    Love that bus. As a (old) retired public transit driver, I like old buses!

  3. Mark F Newton-John says:

    Even as California’s High Speed Rail is currently under construction, there are still people complaining about it.

    • Toyotageek says:

      I’m all for high speed rail, and mass transit in general, in the US, but… we are far behind in something that should have been started decades ago. Japan embraced technological advancement in transportation early on, and generally speaking the culture takes pride in efficiency and dedication in the work place. Yes, Japan has it’s issues and problems also, but in general, we in the US are lagging far behind in time and work ethics to have a successful mass transit infrastructure. Japan trains run on time, down to the seconds, while we accept delays as the norm, and we can’t seem keep our freight trains on the tracks due to aging and poorly maintained infrastructure.
      (Disclaimer – these are just my personal opinions and observations and not scientifically proven facts)

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