Attraction National Museum of Nature and Science 7-20 Uenokoen Taito, Tokyo 110-8718, Japan Published on: 25-02-2016
Image copyrights belong to authors
Why National Museum of Nature and Science is special ?
The National Museum of Nature and Science (国立科学博物館 Kokuritsu Kagaku Hakubutsukan?) is in the northeast corner of Ueno park in Tokyo. Opened in 1871, it has had several names, including Ministry of Education Museum, Tokyo Museum, Tokyo Science Museum, the National Science Museum of Japan, and the National Museum of Nature and Science as of 2007. It was renovated in the 1990s and 2000s, and offers a wide variety of natural history exhibitions and interactive scientific experiences.
What to explore at National Museum of Nature and Science?
We recommend starting with the Global Gallery, which seems to have all the cool stuff - dinosaurs (two floors of them!), and lots and lots of stuffed animals from around the world. A fascinating exhibit on biodiversity shows variations within families of animals and plants and how they evolved, and the Forest of Discovery allows visitors to explore under leaves and inside nests. The very aromatic herb garden up on the roof makes a relaxing spot for a short break.
The "science" bits of the museum are less extensive than those devoted to nature, but there is a big gallery devoted to man's inventions, with full-scale airplanes, cars and satellites. Next to that is a popular room filled with hands-on experiments that investigate physical phenomena such as magnetism and electricity, light and motion.
Compared to the very modern and stylish Global Gallery, the much older Japan Gallery is less dazzling, atlhough still worth a quick run-through. However the much-touted Theater 360, a spherical theater showing wrap-around movies about nature and space, was dizzying but otherwise underwhelming.
The museum restaurant (upstairs in the Global Gallery) offers a big and interesting-looking menu. There's also a more ordinary (and much noisier) cafe-lounge in the Japan Gallery, and a rooftop snack area with parasols that open automatically when you sit down. Audio guidance to the museum (Y300) is available in English, Japanese, Korean and Mandarin.
- Great for kids, beautiful exhibits
- Tokyo Version of "Natural History Museum"
- A place for family and kids
- Diverse range of exhibits
- Animals of legend
National Museum of Nature and Science 7-20 Uenokoen Taito, Tokyo 110-8718, Japan
Tips for you
This museum is well presented and offers high quality exhibits. If you are interested in the subject matter, it is worth visiting as it is top-of-the-line. In my several dozen visits to Tokyo, I had never made an effort to get to this museum until this last trip. I was driven by the interest of my colleague with whom I was traveling. He wanted to invest the time so I was game to give it a try. The reason I had never visited this museum was due to the fact that the subject matter was intrinsically not that interesting to me. However, as it turns out, I am glad we made the effort as it ended up being more interesting than I anticipated. I am in the physical sciences (chemistry and optics) but the fields of geology, archeology and anthropology never interested me. However, even with that lack of innate interest in the subject matter, I was quite intrigued with the exhibits as they were presented in a very interesting manner. I was particularly interested in the geology exhibit, especially as it related to the study of seismology within Japan. There were also two exhibit areas of which I was unaware before visiting that did deal with subject matter of natural interest to me. The first revolved around the origins and evolution of the Japanese race. It was quite fascinating to learn about why the Ainu people of Hokkaido were distinct from, though closely related to, the Japanese people who have populated Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu for hundreds of years. There was also a brief trace of the origins of the Okinawan people and their distinctive racial history as well. The other exhibit of inherent interest had to do with the Natural History of the Japanese Islands. This was represented by a very intriguing set of displays that dealt with the flora and fauna of Japan. I was particularly interested in the origin and speciation of the Hokkaido Bear. One other display of which I was previously unaware was the room dealing with measuring devices used in the fields represented in the other exhibits. There were various vintage seismographs, clocks and timepieces, balances, telescopes and microscopes. In the timepiece section, there was a blurb on the contribution of Seiko to the field. The architecture of the building was also noteworthy as it was fairly impressive and enjoyable in its own right. The structure is in the Neo-Renaissance style and was completed in 1930. It was built in the shape of an airplane. Overall, if you are interested in this subject matter, this is a good museum to put on your Tokyo agenda. For ¥620, it is worth the effort. It would be easy to combine in one day with someplace like the nearby Tokyo National Museum if you can keep each visit to about four hours each, although that might be hard to do! The museum is easy to find. It is accessible from two or three different Metro stations but Ueno is undoubtedly the easiest. When you arrive, cross over to Ueno Park and just look for the big Whale!