Location: National Museum of Nature and Science (Ueno's Science Museum)

I wonder how many people know this museum by its proper name. It's quite long.
 Ueno's Science Museum reminds me a lot of the California Academy of Sciences of the 1980s in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. It's a pretty large building with lots to see, but not a whole lot to do. The outside has some neat stuff to look at, such as this old train steam engine. But you can't really explore it.
 There's a nice global environmental awareness type of sculpture, but it doesn't do anything.
 There are owls hidden inside that keep an eye on the visitors, though.
 And on the other side of the building sits a giant whale. They could have put a slide inside the whale! How fun would that be? But alas, it just sits there.
 Entering the museum, you see that this really is a museum that focuses on nature. Here you see sea life (actually, seashore-life - the sea life comes later).
 I wonder how many seals were clubbed until they got one as cute as this.
 Half of one floor feels like a basement of an old Woolworths. There is an amazingly large collection of measuring devices. This is an extremely old seismograph.
 And these are scales or something. I'm not exactly sure. Everything is just covered in dust inside their little glass cases.
 But don't worry. You soon enter the relatively brighter other side of the floor to find furry woodland creatures, stuffed like trophies as all museums used to do.
 They even flip the bird at you...
 Or many birds, for that matter.
 Bird watchers can really brush up on their species knowledge here.
 Hey, there's little people in that house! There is a history of human evolution section...
 There's even a long display case full of prehistorical models. I think the models were made during prehistory too.
 Now we're in the real sea-creatures area. This was the most beautiful part of the exhibits, in my mind.
 However, it was quite warm, stuffy, and crowded in the museum on the Sunday I attended, so I felt a little crabby.
 This reminds me of my bathroom when I lived in Conyers. Those of you who saw my apartment there will understand what I mean.
 The museum is really two buildings in one. The front building has all small creatures seen above. But behind the original structure is a bigger, somewhat more-modern building with a bit better exhibits, and less glass. You start by seeing this dinosaur.
 And then you become prey for dozens of large wildlife creatures.
 Ack! Watch out for that tiger! He'll get you! Don't worry, panda. He doesn't like white and black meat. Only humans.
 Aww. How sweet. I should note that while all these animals are behind a glass partition (to protect from prying little hands) this room feels so much more open and dynamic than the mounted-in-a-case feel of the old exhibits.
 There's a kid's area which looks even more natural. Little ones can crawl underneath the hill and poke their head out in a couple places.
 Eventually you get to the 1960s. There is a technology exhibit that is really unimpressive, but still fun to look at. I feel like I'm about to watch some war movie!
 Do you like old gadgets?
 How about space trash?
 Or a giant tapeworm?!?!?! Really! This was taken out of a cow, if I remember correctly.
 Finally, there is a full dinosaur bone exhibit. T-Rex is hungry!
 Rather than show recreated dinosaur models, the museum just shows off its collection of bones.
 I bet a dog would be really happy in this place.
Oh, there is a little bit of interactivity. You can learn about measurement here - there are little displays for each of the base units (time, length, mass, temperature, etc).

The museum is very old-school in its exhibit style. There isn't much interactivity, instead focusing on showing what a lot of animals look like. There are descriptions and details in Japanese, I'm sure with some explanations about behavior, location, etc, but really this feels like a "let's look at stuffed animals" museum.

I recommend the museum for parents with kids who love animals, or for true biology fans. The National Museum of Nature and Science has great exhibits, but it certainly doesn't match the current preference for museums that include interactivity. Plus, there doesn't seem to be any description of how the environment and all these creatures work together to create an ecosystem. For active children, you may want to skip this one all together and head to some of the more-interactive science museums, like Miraikan or Science Museum Tokyo.

Ueno's science museum is open 9-5 (8PM on Fridays). As with most Japan museums, it's closed Monday (or Tuesday if Monday is a national holiday) and December 28-January 1. Admission is 600 yen. You can find it in Ueno Park, on the east side across from the zoo. Most visitors coming from Ueno Station will probably see the giant whale out front.


  1. This post was fun... you feeling a bit synical, perhaps?

  2. Perhaps. While I wasn't fully disappointed with the museum, I was a bit surprised by the feeling that I was transported to some 1920s-era show-and-tell western style museum. I try not to get too snarky on these posts because they actually bring in the most readers, but then I want people to get my real, honest opinion.

  3. the locomotive looks like the Galaxy Express 999