There's no doubt that train transport is something that's woven into the fabric of Japanese society. For some parts of Japan though, trains aren't just a method of getting from A to B, but something that has seen towns flourish from an economic perspective. In the Niigata town of Niitsu, trains meant connection to the rest of the country — and it was even said that at one point in time, one in four Niitsu residents were employed by the railway industry.
The Niitsu Railway Museum was opened back in 1983, and pays homage to the long-standing connection this region of Japan has with all things trains. There are various train carriages on display that you can explore up close, including shinkansens through to steam locomotives, and plenty of exhibits outlining the history of rail development in the area.
The museum is very family friendly, with a kids corner play area, nursing room facilities, and a mini steam locomotive ride (charged at an additional fee of 100 yen per person). Whilst not the biggest or grandest railway museum you'll find in Japan, there's still plenty to explore here, and the admission price is very reasonable.
Do note that the museum is closed each Tuesday if you plan on making a special trip.