A definite must-visit during your time in Japan. This museum is the epitome of hands-on with a focus on asking questions rather than finding answers.
The signature installation of the museum is a digital rendering of the Earth based on satellite images. The main exhibits take up two floors of the museum and the slope up to higher floor spirals around this installation of our Earth allowing a view from all sides. Since the kids inevitably consider this as an invitation to test their sprinting skills, the slope allows mum or dad a few moments of peace as you make your way up while the kids are safely mesmerised by a model of a "room" in the International Space Station. It is beneficial to tell them to look stop and look for it though unless you fancy a sprint up as well!
Of course, being the museum of Innovation, where would we be without Japan's greatest pride and joy, the Asimo robot engineered by Honda. I personally remember as a kid how much news coverage the first steps received. Now Asimo is running, dancing and check out these football skills!
One particular exhibit caught the kids' attention for the better part of an hour! True to the aim on the museum to ask questions, this one is a 'what if' scenario of what the future will hold for Earth and our civilisation. As you enter, you should choose which kind of Earth you think would have the best chance of survival for the next 50 years. Some of the choices include and Earth where global warming has been stopped, where arts and culture abound, where linguistic diversity is preserved, and others. As you make your choice, you carry on through the exhibit with a stamp that shows how many resource points and how many culture points your choice has to start with.
Interesting to compare one of the hottest topics around with another of the options, right? Triangles show the number of culture points and the circles - resource points.
Your choice is then put to the test in a massive projection (literally and metaphorically!) as you input your chosen Earth into a computer screen, draw its journey into the future, and send it on its way. But all is not as simple! Your Earth is put to the test by various calamities such as, ahem, a financial crisis and this impacts your starting points. If you aim well, you will also achieve bonus points. So for the kids, this was basically a giant computer game but with the unavoidable neseccity of thinking about how to ensure the safe arrival of Earth to the destination point. Whatever happens to your Earth, whether it fails to reach the 50 year projection or whether it succeeds, you receive a letter from our descendants that details the problems or benefits of your chosen path. And do you know what is mega-exciting? It is all available in English as well!
It would be impossible to give a blow-by-blow of all the exhibits as there is just so much to see and think about even though there aren't that many different sections. However, here are a two more that caught my grown-up eye:
First, a rendition of how digital and analog imaging works. For someone who knows little beyond the fact that binary is a string of 0s and 1s, it was fascinating to see how the numbers the computer "sees" are translated into an image. The greater the difference between two numbers next to each other, the clearer the boundary line of the image. and, of course, the more squares (pixels) that are available for the image, the greater the accuracy. A clear demonstration of why the resolution matters on your video.
Second, a schematic of how our brain processes information and stores memories using LED "pathways" to show our neural networks. Found in the human body section, you could press one of three buttons to smell a stinky smell, create a memory, or make a decision to eat a donut or not. As each button is pressed the neural pathway lights up, showing which parts of the brain are activated in which order and is definitely something I will bring the kids to see again when we study the brain and how it works.
We ended up spending just over 5 hours in the museum (including lunch) so it's definitely more of a whole-day activity. They have a museum shop with a whole bunch of science stuff and even real chemistry test tubes and beakers. And there is a small playground just outside where the kids can burn off any energy they might still have after the museum.
A word of advice - bring your own sandwiches for fussy eaters. We tried the food in the restaurant and the best thing there were the fries.
Their website is:
Their location is:
(opens Google Maps)
I would love to hear if you enjoy the museum as much as we did!