Watch, Touch and Discover at the Nagoya City Science Museum
The Nagoya City Science Museum is one of the world’s best science museums and houses the largest planetarium in the world. The museum is located on the grounds of Shirakawa Park in the Sakae area of Central Nagoya a downtown area famous for its high-end department stores and plethora of restaurants.
It is not hard to spot the museum in the distance with its unique modern architecture and huge ball-shaped planetarium in the middle of the building. The museum building itself is an exhibition with its photovoltaic power generation equipment used to power the building, green covered walls, unique elevators and visible earthquake-proof construction.
The Nagoya City Science Museum has 6 floors of science to explore with three main sections on modern technology, life sciences and general sciences. The museum is split into three main buildings each having a different theme.
The Life Science Building has exhibitions on Discovering the Earth, Clothing, Food and Housing, Human Body and Secrets of Life.
The Astronomy Building contains the Planetarium as well as sections on Our Universe and a Science Stage.
The Science and Technology Building has sections on the Wonders of Science, Mechanics and Technology, Principles of Nature, Matter and Energy, Frontiers of Science and an Observatory on the 7th floor.
The motto of the museum is “Watch, Touch and Discover” and it certainly lets you do this with various hands-on exhibits that let you explore, learn and discover.
You have two options in terms of entrance tickets. One is for the museum only and the other is for both the museum and planetarium. Temporary exhibitions are sometimes held in the basement. At the moment they have a special exhibition called “Fushigiwaarudo” or Mysterious World in English which is running from July 18 to August 31.
The exhibition is really interesting and contains images and art to trick your mind as well as optical illusions. They even have the famous “The Dress” also known as “Dressgate” that was such a huge internet sensation earlier this year in February. Do you remember the one? It caused disputes all over the world between family and friends over its colour. Is it white and gold or blue and black? Well, now you can finally decide for yourself with a visit here!
The Planetarium dome is called “Brother Earth” and features the world’s biggest dome screen with a diameter of 35 meters. The programs at the planetarium change on a monthly basis and cover current astronomical phenomena. The theme for August is “Space Elevator and is about a future where we might be able to visit space easily via a space elevator. The shows are presented live in Japanese only, but are still very interesting to look at and enjoy on the huge spherical screen.
A place I really like is the “Deep Freezing Lab” where you can cool off from the summer heat in a -30C room by wearing a special deep freeze suit. You have to queue for a free ticket at certain times of the day to enter the lab, but it is worth it and allows you to see beautiful aurora images in a room which simulates conditions at the Earth’s Polar Regions. The “Tornado Lab” is also a lot of fun and allows you at the push of a button to create a real 9 meter tall tornado.
A fun aspect I really like about the museum is the touch-screen tablets utilized on the upper floors which let you learn about space and future technology through interactive learning. The information is available in both English and Japanese.
Unfortunately most of the explanations in the museum are in Japan with some English titles. You can get around this by downloading an app for the museum which allows you to use your smartphone to hear information about the exhibition. The English audio guide plays automatically when you stand close to each exhibition.
Once you finish visiting the museum it can be fun to check out the action at Shirakawa Park where the museum is located. You will quite often find groups of people practicing dance or for a local festival in the park and it is one of the best places in Nagoya for people-watching.
The Nagoya City Science Museum is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Aichi Prefecture (https://taiken.co/single/five-fun-things-to-do-in-aichi) and is a fun place for visitors of all ages to try their hand at science through interactive learning.
Address: 2-17-1 Sakae, Naka-ku, Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture 460-0008
Hours: Open from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm
Closed: Every Monday, The Third Friday of the Month and from December 29 to January 3
Admission: Museum only 400 yen (Adults), Museum & Planetarium 800 yen (Adults) with Junior High School Students and under FREE
Sakae is an easy 30 minute walk from Nagoya Station, or 5 minute train ride on the Higashiyama Subway line. From Tokyo take a JR Tokaido Shinkansen to Nagoya, which only takes around 100 minutes on the fastest Nozomi Train.