Steam Locomotive No. 12 (originally No. 23). Although many British-made locomotives were once used in Japan, this is the only steam locomotive currently running there. The engine was manufactured in 1874 by Sharp, Stewart & Co., a long-established firm, with a history going back to 1806, which had turned to making locomotives in 1833 (see Sharp, Stewart & Co."). This locomotive's manufacture number was 2421. Like its sister engine, manufacture no. 2420, it was used in the Tokyo area from January - June 1875. The account of these engines continues: "Afterward, their class name was changed to Class 160 with four other Sharp Stewarts: Nos. 13, 15, 17 and 19 (ex-Nos.2-5). They were named: No. 21 (ex-No.22) to No. 164, No. 23 to No. 165. And later they were moved to the Osaka area" ("Steam Locomotive Class 160 No. 23").

The other engines met different fates, for example, this one's sister engine, originally no. 22, "was retired and scrapped" before World War II. No. 12, however, was kept for its heritage value and eventually arrived at the Meiji-Mura Museum, soon after its opening — and finally restored in 1973: "No. 12 became active as the steam train on the Meji-Mura line. The Boiler was restored during 1985. No. 12 was the oldest restored steam engine in Japan" ("Steam Locomotive Class 160 No. 23; its whole life story can be read on this useful source).

Photographs kindly contributed by Shuichi Okada, with text and formatting by Jacqueline Banerjee. You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite it in a print one. [Click on the images to enlarge them.]


"Sharp, Stewart & Co." Grace's Guide. Web. 9 February 2021.

Steam Locomotive Class 160 No. 23.” Web. 9 February 2021.

Created 9 February 2021