The Mitsubishi Minatomirai Industrial Museum is a must for rainy days, inquisitive children and parents that have never grown up. Most of the exhibits are carefully explained in Japanese and English, and almost all are interactive in some way.
The museum, established in 1994 by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, is based in an unassuming building across the road from Landmark Tower. The object is to allow children to experience science and technology, and let them learn through exploration and discovery.
The ground floor features four sections: transportation, ocean, aerospace, and daily life. The transport section is filled with an almost life sized replica of a bus and the screen outside the window allows whoever is in the driving seat to simulate a journey along roads. 3D screens around the walls gave examples of different transport scenarios, with a problem and solution within the same picture.
In the ocean section is a replica of SHINKAI 6500, a submersible vessel that can dive to depths of 6,500 metres in order to survey the ocean floor and study creatures of the deep. Monitors allow visitors to see what the SHINKAI would see as it trawls the ocean floor. Near to the replica is a large testing ball manufactured for trialling pressure at depth. The ball is mangled on one side showing it obviously could not withstand the force. It is a sobering reminder of the dangers of underwater exploration.
Entering the aerospace section, a display projected on to the floor zooms in and out from the museum building to far space, showing aircraft and satellites as it goes. There is an exhibit from the Tanegashima Space Centre in Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan’s main launch site for satellites and other space development activities. Two huge rocket engines fuelled by liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen are a prominent feature, and there are inactive displays giving information about different satellites and how space has been viewed through history.
Leaving the aerospace section you can try out a space suit – there are steps into it for the smaller astronauts.
The final section on the ground floor is called daily life discovery and is about useful machines, smart grids, air circulation and home energy.
Upstairs are four more sections: the history of vehicles, technology quest, environment/energy and trial square.
The history of vehicles is a static display of Japanese trains, planes, ships and an oilrig. There are almost no English translations here, but look under the ship models for the pull-out drawers that have photographs of below decks and life aboard these vessels.
In the technology section various machines demonstrate buoyancy and lift, and wind flow for ships and planes. A colourful mock up of a crane has big pulleys and cogs that children can twist and turn to make it work. It was particularly popular when I visited.
The development of new forms of energy is the concern of the environment/energy section as natural resources such as coal, gas, petroleum and uranium are running out. Models of wave power, floating wind turbines, wind power and nuclear power demonstrate the need for new energy for a sustainable future.
The final two sections of the museum: Space project (lunar resource mining vessel development project) and Sky Walk Adventure (a helicopter simulator) were both fully booked on the day I visited, but there is enough to keep children and parents amused without these sections, as they explore and discover science and technology through the interactive learning. The Space Project also required a further fee.
There is a small gift shop on the premises but no café.
Address: Mitsubishi Minatomirai Industrial Museum, Mitsubishi Juko Yokohama Bldg, Minatomirai 3-3-1, Nishi-ku, Yokoham-shi, 220-8401.
Opening Timings: From 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (admission until 4:30 p.m.)
Closed: Every Tuesday (following day if Tuesday is a national holiday), at the year-end and New Year, and on specified closed days
500 yen for adults
300 yen for Junior high/High school students
200 yen for elementary school students
100 yen discount per person for groups of 20 or more people
Admission is free for persons 65 or older, and physically impaired persons and their attendants (please show your ID or certificate).
Admission is free for elementary school, junior and senior high school, college of technology and university field trip visits, provided a reservation is made at least three days in advance of the visit.