Enjoy the romance of rail travel aboard the JNR 583-series limited express EMU

Introduced in 1967, the Japan National Railways 583-series of electric multiple units (EMUs) served long-distance travelers for 40 years, with the very last rolling stock finally withdrawn in 2017. Riding in these was nearly as exciting as traveling on the Shinkansen bullet trains, though certainly not as fast. Japanese builder Orient R. Minesky (also on Flickr) has recreated this iconic and historic train in LEGO, in its original dark blue and cream JNR livery, prior to privatization and breakup into regional railways in 1987. Presenting the train photographed on a cement wall from a low angle, with LEGO electric lines against a real-life background, makes it seem like the train is clattering toward you at speed.

The builder has crafted a fully detailed interior for every car in his train. The locomotive features an engine, and the streamlined front can be opened to couple with other engines. Sleeper cars feature seats that convert to beds, and the top of the cars are also detailed, with pantographs and other equipment.


Passenger cars have seats that can swivel around to create “foursome” seating or change for the direction of travel. The dining car has tables as well as a galley-style kitchen.


As impressive as the level of detail is on the model, I’m especially impressed with how the builder has presented it in a variety of realistic settings, like this shot at dusk lit from within.


Although the LEGO model itself is much smaller in this next photo, placing the train on a concrete wall with a rice paddy and verdant hillside in the background evokes the romance of long-distance rail travel in Japan.


As I discovered last summer at KLUG’s Japan Brickfest, many Japanese builders get books printed that feature their best work, and you can pick up a copy of the builder’s book about his LEGO JNR 583-series yourself.

And if you enjoyed this trip to Showa-era Japan, you’ll also love this Japanese public telephone by nobu_tary.