As a model railroader, there is no shopping trip that is more exciting to me han a trip to Caboose Hobbies in Denver, Colorado. At least, that is what I always thought. My son and his family, which includes a couple of train-loving grandsons (Hayden and Andrew), may have come close to that pinnacle of a hobby shop road trip experience with a visit to Kato in Tokyo, Japan. While stationed in Japan with the Marine Corps, they took a vacation to Tokyo, and you can’t get that close to one of the world’s largest model railroad manufacturers, without visiting their store.
I can’t say for sure, since I wasn’t there with them, but from the photos they sent and purchases that were made, I would say they had a great time. A couple of the hobby shops they have visited in Japan have large layouts (usually N-scale) that customers can run their own equipment on. Kato had a couple of layouts in their store!
The photo reminds me of the Museum of Science and Industry layout in Chicago. The concept of bringing in your own equipment is reminiscent of the slot-car race tracks that were popular when I was a teenager. You could bring your own slot-car in and run it on the large store-owned track. Hopefully with running trains, the speeds have been greatly reduced and there are fewer instances of things flying off the track than with the slot-cars. I can remember several instances where slot cars flew entirely off the track! It was hard on the cars and their owners, and would not be good for model railroad equipment at all.