Science Museum: My Japan Adventure Continues… (Part 3 Of 9)

Previously, I shared my expectations of Japan and the realities I experienced upon arriving there. After settling in for the night at the hotel, now was the time for us to begin our sightseeing! It was an exciting moment, especially when there were so many destinations to choose from just in Tokyo alone. Fortunately, my family planned the places we wanted to see beforehand, so it wouldn’t be as overwhelming. Come along as I share the journey to our main destination in this story: Miraikan Science Museum.

Model of International Space Station at Miraikan Science Museum
Miraikan Science Museum is the place that will impress you with their technology. Just a warm-up before the big exhibits, here’s a model of the International Space Station (ISS).
Photo by Afrina Mokhtar

Before The Science Museum, There Is A Temple… And A Pokémon Centre

Miraikan Science Museum isn’t exactly the closest place to go from our hotel, so we stopped by some destinations in between. Or two destinations, to be exact. I think there are other places we went to, but my memory is fuzzy, so these would have to do. Here are the locations that we went before we made our way to the Miraikan.

1. Zojoji Temple

The first destination we stopped by was Zojoji Temple. There, a Japanese tour guide (not to be confused with our guide, who is Malaysian) taught us about temizuya or water ablution. According to the Japanese guide, temizuya is an important purification practice for Shinto worshippers before entering the Shinto shrine. If you’re a Muslim, think of it like taking wudhu, also purification practice, before performing Salat prayers.

Shinto Temple compound with a large tree and some people.
Within the compound of Zojoji Temple (centre) lies a temizuya (roof hut on the left) for those who want to do ablution. Fun fact: the large pine tree (right) is actually more than 100 years old!
Photo by Afrina Mokhtar

2. Pokémon Centre

After leaving the temple, we headed off to our next destination: Pokémon Centre. Full transparency; I genuinely thought it was some Pokémon inspired theme park of some sort. When we arrived, imagine my surprise when the Pokémon Centre turned out to be a super store full of Pokémon merchandise. Though it wasn’t exactly my favourite place by any means, my sisters Alisha and Amna are Pokémon fans and they went ballistic. So I guess that place was worth the visit. Because the prices were crazy expensive, they settled for a small figurine, whilst my mother and I bought cable protectors. They were probably still pretty pricey, but I chose not to ask my dad about the price.

Two girls standing in front of a Pokémon statue.
My sisters, Amna (left) and Alisha (right), at Pokémon Centre. Undoubtedly, this was their favourite place to go.
Photo by Faizah Ahmad

Arriving At Odaiba And There’s Gundam

Only two destinations and it was already lunch time! It goes to show how much time it took to travel from one place to another. We planned to eat at this halal Indian restaurant called Chandrama that was located in Shinbashi. Now, we almost had the unlucky experience of the restaurant as it was about to close when we arrived. Fortunately, our guide did his magic and the restaurant operator allowed us to eat there for about thirty minutes. The food was amazing, merely because I was hungry. We later found a small prayer room for zuhr prayer before heading off to Odaiba.

The train ride there was amazing. I had the chance to see the cityscape of Tokyo and it felt like I was living in cyberpunk world. A few stops later, we finally arrived at Miraikan Science Museum. As the train neared Aomi Station, my parents were excited when a giant statue of Gundam came into view. I was stunned to see how humongous it was. Too bad my parents chose not take photos with this giant robot because the statue wasn’t that far from Miraikan.

Giant white robot in front of a building near Miraikan Science Museum
A giant statue of Gundam. My mum took this picture from afar (to be precise, we were still at the Aomi Station). I still had no idea why she chose not to go there to take a picture of the statue with my dad.
Photo by Faizah Ahmad

Welcome To Miraikan Science Museum (Finally!)

Finally, after some time, we arrived at Miraikan Science Museum. In reality, it was actually just a fifteen-minute walk from Aomi Station, but it was so tiring that it felt like thirty minutes instead. As we have walked the whole day in hot weather, I actually lost the mood to enjoy the museum. And not to mention that we were perspiring profusely. I was so sure that Malaysia’s heat is more bearable than Japan’s, but in hindsight, I think they’re both just as bad. That being said, a huge sense of relief came when we entered a building filled with air conditioning. 

My Initial Expectations Of The Science Museum

Before I share my experience at Miraikan Science Museum, I had to share my expectations of it. Miraikan was different from most museums because of this factor: science. Instead of being history-based, Miraikan is science-based. Now, to be honest, I’m not a huge fan of science and it still is my least favourite subjects to learn at school. So, to hear that this museum focuses mainly on science was something I wasn’t really looking for. That was until we arrived at the museum, and my perception of the place changed.

Miraikan Science Museum Favourites

The moment we entered Miraikan, I was blown away. The technology and science projects were just beyond imagination. I did wonder how did these scientists manage to come up with these kinds of projects. The amount of thoughts put into these exhibits was amazing and it was informative too. It was useful for someone who dislike science like myself. At least, that’s what I thought. Anyway, let’s go through some of my favourite locations in Miraikan Science Museum. The most memorable ones at least.

1. Science Exhibit One: This Is ISS, Go Ahead

One of the exhibits that I entered was This is ISS, Go Ahead. And yes, that is the actual name of the exhibit and no, I didn’t make that up. This exhibit explores the life of an astronaut in the International Space Station or ISS, with their routines and all. If you’re ever curious what the ISS facilities are like, then this exhibit shows you everything, including the toilet. I’m pretty sure that’s the most famous facility, because no one (not even me) could imagine how a person can, well, excrete in space. I think if you see this, you can never unsee it.

Model of ISS within a science museum
A model of a toilet in ISS. Not going to lie; it really gives me second thoughts about going to space if I have to use this kind of toilet.
Photo by Faizah Ahmad

The exhibit also shows a bedroom and what I assume to be a kitchen because it has an oven. There was not much to say about the oven, but the bedroom though. That is a wow factor there, because again, how do astronauts sleep? With the lack of gravity in space, it’s reasonable to have a sleeping bag stuck to the wall to prevent them from, well, floating everywhere. It was funny to think about it, but I doubt that experience is fun in real life. Seeing this truly made me respect the astronauts even more.

The other half of the science exhibit: blue sleeping bag strapped to the wall.
Here is the ‘bed’. It is more of a sleeping bag strapped to the wall to prevent sleeping astronauts from floating around. It doesn’t look comfortable, then again, I’ve never been to space. So, it’s hard to tell.
Photo by Afrina Mokhtar

2. Science Exhibit Two: Robots In Your Life 

This exhibit is special in a way that it lets you participate in the activity. The activity is not that big, in my opinion. It asks you to do the simple task of petting something. Yes, as in petting your pet. The exhibit in question is Robots in Your Life, where you have a robot in the shape of harp seal pup with a pacifier in its mouth. What you need to do is simply petting the pup gently and it will respond. It’s so simple and cute, and if you love cute things, you need to get to this exhibit. I could literally die from how cute the harp seal pup is.

My sisters and I at the harp seal pup exhibit. The robot lets out small noises when we pat them gently, and if you love cute things, you will love this. My sister did try to make it fall asleep as per the instructions, but it didn’t seem to do anything. Though, it did fall asleep long after I stopped recording.
Video recorded by Afrina Mokhtar

3. Science Exhibit Three: Mission Survival: 10 Billion

Mission Survival: 10 Billion is most likely the best exhibit that I enjoyed. The model looks really cool and fun, even though it’s clear that I can only view this. My favourite part was the moment when the red ball hit the human dominoes, and you see the chain reaction. As fun and cool as it looks, I did struggle to understand the meaning behind it. I think it has something to do with population control? Or is it representing the cycle of life? Or could it be both? Those were the questions I had when I saw this exhibit. Despite being confused by its message, I was intrigued and enjoyed the moment when a red ball came hitting the stack of people made of dominoes. 

The model of Mission Survival: 10 Billion exhibit! I enjoyed watching this all played out, despite not having a complete understanding of the purpose.
Video recorded by Afrina Mokhtar

In hindsight, after some research, it turns out the exhibit explores the effects of disasters on modern society. Mainly on how damaging disasters are. This model is supposed to help visitors understand how greatly disaster impacts us. If you watch the video, you can actually hear my mum explaining the meaning of the model to my brother, who was probably curious about it. I guess I was too entertained by the red ball hitting the people dominoes to listen to her.

4. Bonus Part: A Robot Named ASIMO

This is the actual unique part of the visit. Around a certain time, visitors will have the opportunity to see a robot named ASIMO, developed by Honda. What makes this different from other exhibits was that it’s not actually an exhibit, but a demonstration. ASIMO is a cute robot about human-sized, and I had the best opportunity to see ASIMO going around and greeting people. Unfortunately, ASIMO speaks Japanese, so I couldn’t really understand what it said actually. Nonetheless, it was a memorable visit and the part I hope to see again sometime.

The demonstration of ASIMO that I managed to capture whilst at Miraikan. Visitors have to stay behind a certain line, so that ASIMO has the space it needs to walk around. There was a speaker asking ASIMO questions in English but ASIMO answered them in Japanese. To be honest, I’d prefer ASIMO to answer both in Japanese and English.
Video recorded by Afrina Mokhtar

Sadly, future updates revealed that ASIMO had ‘graduated’ from Miraikan in 2022, meaning that ASIMO will no longer appear in Miraikan from then on. Hence, visitors who are planning to visit Miraikan from 2023 onwards won’t be able to see the ASIMO demonstration. Frankly, I was so sad to hear this because I was looking forward to see ASIMO again in the future if I had the chance, but I guess Honda has better plans for it. Let’s hope to see ASIMO sometime in another place.

Was Miraikan Worth It?

Before we went on this trip, the burning question remains: was Miraikan worth the time and money? After experiencing the museum myself, my answer would be yes. Yes, it’s worth it. And this is big coming from someone who really dislikes science and wasn’t looking forward to this trip. If you’re a huge science geek, then this trip should be in your top ten list for your Japan trip. If you’re not a huge fan of science like me, then trust me, there are many parts of the museum that you will enjoy. 

The Next Part On The List

We’ve successfully achieved the first destination on my list! With that done and dusted, we will make our way to our next destination. Want to take a guess at the place? Hint: it’s neither historical nor scientific. It has the works of a certain animation studio. Any idea? Do stay tuned for the next part!

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About Afrina MOKHTAR

An introvert who lived most of her life abroad, surrounded by people of different cultures, Afrina expresses herself through writing. She's into mysterious and supernatural stories. She also loves anime, and dreams of becoming a manga artist too.

One Reply to “Science Museum: My Japan Adventure Continues… (Part 3 Of 9)”

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