National Museum of Nature and Science
Explore the natural history, science and technology of Japan in this enjoyable museum.
Split over two buildings and five floors in a quiet corner of Ueno Park, the National Museum of Nature and Science houses a range of immersive, interactive exhibitions exploring natural history, science and technology related to Japan and the world. The museum also functions as an important research institute, preserving over four million specimens for study.
Start with the Japan Gallery which covers the history and nature of the Japanese islands, beginning with its splitting from the main continent to the formation of the current archipelago. Displays showcase the various species that lived and died in Japan over the millennia – try imagining that elephants once roamed the streets of Tokyo – and how ocean currents have shaped the country’s geography.
In the same building is the Theatre 360 which promises a completely immersive experience of the history of mankind. You’ll feel like you’re floating or travelling at high speed, surrounded on all sides by a seamless sphere of sound and video with a dome that measures approximately one millionth of the diameter of the earth (how’s that for making you feel insignificant?)
Next door, the Global Gallery features a Global Environment Detector where you can track real time changes happening right now on the earth via a holographic screen. Move on to an interesting display of Japanese inventions from the Edo period onwards before heading down to the basement floor which contains a fantastic exhibition on dinosaur evolution. The extraordinary skeletons are worth the ticket price alone.
The museum holds around four special exhibitions per year. Past topics include baby dinosaurs, chocolate (yes, chocolate) and the Incan Empire. All exhibitions, whether permanent or temporary, have support in four languages: Japanese, English, Korean and Chinese.