Fun in Japan with Kids
Headed by former Japanese astronaut Mamoru Mohri, this museum opened in July 2001.
The standing exhibits are devoted to four subjects that make cutting-edge science easy to understand and fun: the earth’s environment, how life works, informsation science, and robots and robot technology. A big hit with kids is the robot exhibit at the “Robot World” on the third floor where they can see a 10-minute demonstration by ASIMO, the humanoid robot developed to live with humans, who explains the features of his body, kicks a ball and so on. Other robots on display include Paro, modeled after a harp seal and used for therapy, a robot that can catch a ball thrown at high speed, and others. These examples of robot technology make visitors feel that the day when robots coexist with humans can’t be far off.
In the semi-spherical GAIA Dome Theater on the sixth floor, a variety of contents are screened using three projection systems: the Atmos all-sky super high precision 3D image system; the Megastar-II Cosmos planetarium projector, which can project five million stars; and the all-sky movie projector. This is the only projection system of its kind in Japan. It is used to show Birthday—What Links the Universe and Me on a huge screen. This movie, created through the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan’s Four-dimensional Digital Universe Project (4D2U), is projected in thrilling 3D and depicts outer space realistically. Dome Theater reservations are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis from 10 a.m., so it’s probably a good idea to get a ticket the minute you arrive at the museum.
RiSuPia is a museum where adults and children can have fun learning about science and arithmetic through hands-on experience.
On the Quest Floor, the first floor where visitors are admitted free of charge, exhibits explain in simple terms the principles behind the pendulum, hot air currents and other phenomena. The third floor main zone is the Discovery Floor (admission fee required for visitors 16 and over; free for anyone 15 and under). Here, visitors are encouraged to rent a portable Discovery Scope audio guide (in Japanese or English) that explains the exhibits and the principles behind what they’re seeing. Learning about the world of arithmetic and science becomes a game-like experience.
For example, Prime Numbers Hockey is a game where players can score points if they can get a number that can only be divided by one and by itself into the goal. At the science corner, drawing on the Light Canvas with light makes the user understand that all colors are composed of the three primary colors, red, blue and yellow.
This attraction takes you instantly back to the Edo period (1603–1868), with ninja and samurai around every corner.
Following the Edo-period theme, visitors can try their hand at Japanese archery or experience ninja-craft. If you want to know about ninja, visit the Ninja Museum to see numerous examples of their weapons; the Ninja Kai Kai Tei House of Mystery offers a taste of the ninja experience too. This strange structure literally turns your world topsy-turvy. And to see “real” ninja in action, catch the action show at the Grand Ninja Theater, a sound and light production highlighting the ninja arts and spirit. This show is the real thing, featuring actors who performed as ninja in the movieLast Samurai.
Asakusa Hanayashiki, an amusement park that opened over 150 years ago, is now a symbol of Tokyo’s shitamachi district. This park’s attractions include Japan’s oldest existing roller coaster, which is also its most popular, the ride careering just inches from the walls of neighboring homes. There’s also an old-fashioned Ferris wheel, a market day fair corner and other nostalgic amusements. The “Fantasy and Dreams” area, with its six-meter-tall kiddy Ferris wheel, and a helicopter and a taxi running on rails, is just the ticket for young children.
On Saturdays and Sundays, the Oedo Stage erected on Hanayashiki Street features a five- to 10-minute-long ninja show once every hour. Another ninja show, this one 30 minutes long, is performed twice daily at the Hanayashi-za Theater on the grounds.
This museum displays materials related to railways in Japan and abroad. It includes many enjoyable attractions designed to teach visitors about how railways work and the principles behind them.
One recommended attraction is the mini self-drive train, a miniature carriage 2.4 meters long and 1.3 meters wide, taking three passengers, that runs along a circuit 300 meters long. Drive this train while looking at the operating system on the monitor, and you’ll feel like a real train driver.
This auto theme park displays 140 of Toyota’s current models, a must-visit destination for car lovers. Adults can test drive vehicles, and for kids, there are all kinds of attractions that put them in a virtual driver’s seat.
For children, the most popular attraction is Kids Hybrid Ride One, a 150-meter long indoor track where children can pedal carts. The Motorsports Simulator allows them to get the feel of driving a motor vehicle. It’s a real simulator where kids playing a car racing game set at the Fuji International Speedway can experience the complex load shifting during the ride.