Sunday, August 18, 2019

1911 Nagasaki Tram No. 134 Renovation & Arts Integration Experience - Intensive Week Summary

Donated to Seashore Trolley Museum in 1960, by the
Nagasaki Electric Tramway Co. Ltd. of Japan to
commemorate the 100th anniversary of the opening of
trade between the United States and Japan. Built in 1911,
No. 134 originally operated in Osaka, being transferred to
Fukuoka in 1929 and to Nagasaki in 1953.

Text and photos for this blog post came from Facebook posts on Seashore Trolley Museum's page, Seashore Trolley Museum archival sources, and this blogger.

     In August (2019), Seashore Trolley Museum hosted a week-long Nagasaki Tram Renovation & Arts Integration Experience.  Led by local artist and new museum member, Ann Thompson of Friends of Aomori. With a grant from the Maine Humanities Council and the Maine Arts Commission, the idea to transform Nagasaki tram No. 134 was off and running. Fine Paints of Europe was a generous donor to the project with their donation of nine gallons of paint for the makeover.

     Several Seashore Trolley Museum members and volunteers were inspired by the energy around this project and donated their time to work alongside the six youth artists from the community who applied to participate in this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Together these young minds - Thalia Tucker, Metis Tucker, Blake Pennington, Carlie Hutchins, Amy Bradford, and Nia Farago-Dumsch - took the lead and transformed the tram outside and in. Outside by applying a new coat of paint and inside by creating woodblock printmaking to tell the story of one of the tram's operators, Wada Koichi, who lived in Nagasaki pre- and post-World War II, that would be on display inside No. 134 after a fresh coat of paint was applied.

Inside No. 134, left, seated, museum volunteers and staff,
standing, Ann Thomson, and seated right, the six students
that participated in the intensive week-long Arts Integration
Experience at Seashore Trolley Museum.

     A little background on No. 134 and its travels to Kennebunkport, Maine from Nagasaki, Japan.

No. 134 spec sheet with description.

Nagasaki (Japan) Street Car No. 134 was being
demonstrated to some of the many guests that
attended the presentation ceremony when the photo
was taken in 1960. The scene is just north of Clough
Crossing on the mainline. Note the bow trolley. The
car was shipped via the United States aboard the
Pioneer Minx. Shelvey photo

     No. 134, which was built with vestibules, has straight, vertically sheathed sides (instead of the convex-concave panels) and a railroad roof, the last so-called because it was traditionally used on steam railroad coaches before being applied to streetcars. The monitor, instead of ending abruptly with the flat board or window that was a vestige of the horsecar eyebrow, continues over the vestibule, tapering down to the roofline at the end of the car.
     No. 134 has longitudinal seats but these are very short to permit a maximum standing capacity. The truck on the car was built in the United States and it is equipped with General Electric motors. 
     When shipped to the United States from Japan aboard the SS Pioneer Minx, it was protected by a giant, wood-slatted crate to prevent its being damaged in transport.

     Letter Below:
New England Electric Railway Historical Society        25 April 1960 
Biddeford Road
Kennebunkport, Maine

Dear Sir :
     It is a pleasure for me and my company to be able to favorably consider your request and to present to you free of charge our streetcar #134.

     The streetcar concerned must be happy to join her friends from all over the world in your museum.

     At the time we saw her off, our local newspaper reported the event as a wedding with the headline, "Nagasaki Streetcar Becomes a bride in the United States".

     I hope personally and in behalf of all the employees who have loved her that she will be happy and well forever under your kind and thoughtful care.

Kansuke Wakiyama
Nagasaki Electric Tramway Co. Ltd.
43 Dekidaiku-machi
Nagasaki, City, Japan

     Photos with descriptions that explain the project.

Day 1
Standing, Lyell Castonguay, guest woodblock printing expert,
with the six students participating in the project, in the
museum's upstairs meeting room in the visitor center.

Day 2 - included students priming the exterior of Nagasaki tram No. 134 in the morning, a midday Skype interview with Janice Nimura, author of Daughters of the Samurai, followed by an afternoon continuing to refine their drawings for the woodblock narrative installation that will later be displayed in No. 134.

Day 3 - Morning painting continues, followed by classwork as they begin carving their woodblock prints and watch the movie, The Cats of Mirikitani for additional inspiration.

Day 4 & 5 - More painting and carving.

Day 6 - Painting was wrapped up in the morning followed by a midday Skype with Susan Southard, author of Nagasaki: Life After Nuclear War, then they continued their woodblock work and refinements of the work in the afternoon. 

Day 7 -The Celebration - Students and museum volunteers and staff prepare No. 134 for the 4 pm celebration and install the woodblock prints with captions inside 1911 No. 134 from Nagasaki, Japan. Taiko Maine Dojo performed at the celebration. Scroll down these next few pages and see the incredible work these young artists were inspired to create. Stunning!

Ann Thomson may be reached through

     Work on exterior components of Nagasaki tram No. 134, not included in this amazing project, still require your help. You can help with needed repairs to replace the canvas on the roof and apply a fresh coat of paint, repairs to one end of a vestibule and recreating roll signs.
     Please consider a donation to help complete these exterior repairs. Visit and designate your gift to the Nagasaki Tram, fund #773.

Special thanks go out to Restoration Shop Technician Heidi Schweizer for taking the lead on the restoration half of the tram project and to volunteers Jim Mackell, John Mercurio, Karen & Ed Dooks, and Tom Tello for working alongside the students. Thanks to Restoration Shop Team, led by Randy Leclair and Brian Tenaglia, and the Yard Department Crew, led by Dan Vardaro and Ricj Pascucci, for helping relocate No. 134. 


  1. Hi All,

    That is great, and what a great concept to have it painted as an art project. Wonderful.

    I helped paint that same car back in the late 1970's, it was not an art project !! It was a project. We only painted the exterior. Another shop person was Cliff. We both worked on the car. Maybe others, I don't recall that part.

    What you all have done is truly wonderful. It will be a wonderful exhibit car.

    I always wondered what effects remained from being so near the atom bombing. Interesting to see the art interpretations that came out of this. Will they stay as a part of the exhibit ? I may have missed that answer.

    Well Done !! Nice looking car !! Yah Team.

    Karl johnson

  2. Karl,
    Roof repairs and new canvas is being installed currently. If donations continue to arrive, other needed repairs will also take place. The woodblocks are currently on display at Saco Middle School...future plans are open, but having the woodblocks be displayed in the car have been part of the discussion. No final decisions yet.