Japan Life: The Science Museum

So I realised that since arriving in Tokyo back in early January, I haven’t really done much here done anything here so I figured it was about time I went out and did some exploring. After working from home on Friday, I also hadn’t spoken to another human face-to-face since my Krav Maga class on Thursday so figured I needed to get out the house.

I gathered up my camera and phones because I’ve decided to start vlogging again (let’s see how long it lasts) and headed out. After spending 15 minutes looking at my subway map trying to figure out how to get there and failing, I looked up how to get there on Google maps. Don’t you just love Google maps? It turns out the station is on a privately-run subway line so isn’t even printed on my map. 15 minutes of my life wasted. Thankfully, Google got me sorted and I was there in a jiffy.

Eventually I got there, filming all the way and secretly enjoying the confused expressions of the Japanese people around me way more than the actual filming itself – I’m convinced they just thought I was taking a gazillion photos of the same thing.

And when I got there, I realised I’d actually been there before. Duh. Not to the museum itself but to the area – it turns out the Japanese onsen I visited with Amanda last summer is literally a 3 minute walk away. Who’d have known? I did think everything was looking a tad bit familiar.

The one thing I really wanted to do at the Miraikan was watch their dome show. A couple of years back when I was in New York, I saw one of the space shows at the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History (I totally had to just go and look that up because I’d completely forgotten where it was). It was mesmerising and had me completely enthralled. The show was so inspiring that for the rest of the afternoon I was genuinely contemplating quitting my degree in Chinese & Korean and going off to study physics or engineering in order to become an astronaut. Obviously it didn’t happen but for three hours or so, I was very serious about it!

Anyway, so when I got there they were sold out of tickets. I did my utmost to try and get a ticket; enquiring about the possibility of last minute tickets or if I could take a seat if there was a no show but the female attendant was having none of it. “Why would there be a last minute ticket? Why would someone not show up if they have a reserved ticket?” she kept saying. I gave up. No dome for me. Turns out in Japan when they suggest reserving something, it actually means make a reservation you fool. Lesson learned.

When I got inside, I saw they were doing awesome tours on little Honda robots that you could sit on and ride around the museum – did I want to masquerade as a child while looking clearly oversized for the contraption I’d been put on? DAMN RIGHT I DID.

But no – fully booked. Well…I was under my Fitbit step count goal anyway.

I went off to explore the permanent exhibitions starting with the androids. Surrounded by odd looking androids, I quickly forgot my dome and robot disappointment. These things were freaky!

Untitled design-13

After wondering through the exhibition, I came across two science labs with researchers “working”. I zoomed in with my camera, commenting for my blog how  impressed I was – they are so lifelike! – that is until one got up and smiled at me. Hang on a minute….  Nope, not androids, just humans. Some very android-looking humans? Totally had me fooled.

They had a really interesting exhibition called “Backwards from the Future” which turns the idea of ‘forecasting’ on its head and instead looks at ‘backcasting’; the idea of calculating backwards to the present from an ideal future then determining a roadmap to establish that ideal future as reality. They had interactive games which looked at the importance of promoting cultural and scientific progress while battling ignorance and human greed – the kids couldn’t get enough of the games!

The way technology is revolutionising the healthcare industry is of particularly interest to me (and touches base with a lot of things I work on) so I particularly enjoyed the ‘LIFE: Promoting medicine together’ exhibition which introduced topics like genetically-tailored medicine and how big data is used to better predict and treat illness.

Another highlight of the museum was the interactive space shuttle. By that point I was getting rather hungry so I was most interested in the examples of the food they send up with the astronauts. I know it makes total sense but who knew liquid salt and pepper would be a thing? And I loved that they send up adequate supplies of green tea when they go. Heaven forbid a Japanese astronaut would go without green tea!

Probably the most impressive features of the museum were the volunteers. They were fantastic – I guess you’d expect them to know their stuff but seriously, I was blown away listening to them explain really complex, scientific topics in terms that everyone, even young kids, could understand. From the gentleman who kindly told me everything I could ever possibly wish to know about neutrinos to the lady I saw explaining the concept of a carbon footprint to a boy who couldn’t have been older than 10, they were brilliant.

All in all, even though I didn’t get to see the dome show or ride the robots, it was a pretty sweet afternoon!

 

Link to website:日本科学未来館 The National Museum of Emerging Science & Innovation (Eng)

 

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