The Miraikan Future Science Museum
We had a feeling that our visit to Odaiba Island’s Miraikan Future Science Museum was going to be awesome, and we were right. The only disappointment came when it closed, and we had to leave. Officially named the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, this is the most cutting-edge science museum we’ve ever visited.
Hanging from the ceiling in the foyer, the Geo-Cosmos globe welcomes visitors into the Miraikan. A Super-HD model of the Earth six meters in diameter, with organic LED panels that project over 10 million pixels, the Geo-Cosmos displays a rotating series of maps, from up-to-date global weather patterns, to topics like “Human Migration,” “Train Systems” and “Tuna Migrations.” It’s as absorbing as it is gorgeous, and we could easily have spent an hour on the lounge chairs in the foyer, watching it spin.
After tearing ourselves away from the globe, we toured exhibits dedicated to the International Space Station and the human genome. The museum is kid-friendly, but hasn’t been dumbed-down. There’s a hands-on model of the internet, for example, and an interactive room called “The Songs of Angura.” This is a fully immersive introduction to the science of Spatial Information. Kids can walk around playing with their “shadow-selves,” while adults can delve into supplemental material about creating digital space maps or the tracking of behavioral patterns.
The museum is usually crowded (this is Tokyo after all), but many of the exhibits ask you to take a number and assign you a time to return. It’s a great idea; when your time comes to play with the internet model, for example, you can do so in relative peace. And in the meantime, there are more than enough distractions.
One such distraction is provided by Honda’s famous robot, Asimo, who performs every hour in the museum. Initially, we found him adorable, this little humanoid tramping out onto the stage and waving at us. But as the demonstration progressed, I started to feel uneasy. Here was Asimo demonstrating how fast it could run, how it could jump, grab and throw, and all I could think was, “This thing could hunt me down and rip my head off, and there would be nothing I could do about it.” I’ve always known that the day would arrive on which we would bow before our robot masters, but in the Miraikan I realized how close it already is.
Before leaving, we went to the Miraikan’s dome theater for a 3D movie about the cosmos called Birthday. The 3D was top-notch, and truly created the illusion of diving into the Milky Way. I immediately wanted to watch it again, but we couldn’t. 5pm had rolled around and the museum was shutting down. We were ushered out… in the Japanese fashion, of course: politely and with much bowing and apologizing, but firmly. So for your own visit, make sure to show up early. Even then, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to see everything it has to offer.