Plenty to see! How to Enjoy the National Museum of Nature and Science
The National Museum of Nature and Science sits inside Ueno Park. There are plenty of attractions in its Global Gallery, Japan Gallery, and its 360 degree theater! Here is an introduction to this museum.
What is the National Museum of Nature and Science?
The National Museum of Science and Nature inside Ueno Park was first opened in 1877 and is Japan's most historical museum. Within the facilities they keep around 4,000,000 precious exhibition pieces. It's split up into two areas, the Global Gallery that showcases the history of life and humanity as well as science and technology, and the Japan Gallery that features the Japanese archipelago. These exhibits all have names and explanations in Japanese, English, Chinese, and Korean. There are also voice guides and tablet terminals (310 JPY) in those languages available.
There are many experiment-based exhibits, and a particularly popular exhibit is the Theater 36O, a globe-shaped movie theater. Also recommended are the limited special exhibitions! There is also a restaurant, museum shop, coin lockers, and other facilities on the premises. If you take the time to look at everything one day won't be enough, so please plan your time wisely.
Buying a Ticket
Permanent Exhibitions (Global Gallery, Japan Gallery)
You buy them the day you visit.
Admission fee: General admission/college student: 620 JPY, free for those under high school age
You can buy both in advance and day of. If you buy a ticket to a special exhibition, you can also enjoy the Global Gallery and the Japan Gallery. You can buy tickets on the related website in advance (depending on the theme it may be in Japanese only).
Admission fee: Varies depending on the theme
You can see these using a Permanent Exhibition ticket.
Enjoy the limited Special Exhibitions!
At the National Museum of Nature and Science, other than the permanent exhibitions, they hold Special Exhibitions and Planned Exhibitions. The Special Exhibitions are held on the B1F of the Global Gallery, and past exhibitions include very popular themes like THE DINOSAUR EXPO 2016, Deep Sea, Inca Kingdom, Big Robot Fair ~From Mechanical Dolls to Anime and the Latest Robots~, and more. When there's an exhibit you like, you should clear one day and definitely visit. However, it's usually very busy, so if you're going to see the permanent exhibitions too then make sure to time yourself wisely.
The Planned Exhibitions are mostly held on the B1F of the Japan Gallery, and include very interesting themes like the People of Edo, and 100 Years of Domestically Produced Microscopes. Depending on the theme, the names and explanations may not be in various languages, so please make sure before you visit. If you're going just to enjoy the visuals, you can go without the translations. Definitely try it if you have the chance!
Big Robot Fair
Explore the mysteries of the world at the Global Gallery!
The Global Gallery features the history of life and people. There are 5 exhibition areas, a special exhibition area, the restaurant Museion, and a rooftop herb garden between floors B3 - 3. It's big so make sure to take breaks in between. It's recommended to start from B3F.
You can't miss the moon rocks given to Japan from America. They're rocks taken from the moon by Apollo 11 and 17. Also, the skeleton examples of the mammoth and Tyrannosaurus Rex on floors B2-1, which exhibit the changes in the earth and animal evolution, are impressive and will make you feel like you're in Jurassic Park! The huge compass and earthquake simulator exhibitions as well as the Myriad year clock, a clock that's the pinnacle of Edo period Japanese clocks that's designated as an Important Cultural Asset and the A6M Zero fighter plane on the 2nd floor are all must-sees. The third floor has stuffed mammals and birds lined in a row to make an impressive sight.
When you're tired, take a break!
When you're looking through, you'll want to take a break, right? In this museum there is a restaurant and other eating areas where you can take breaks. In the Global Gallery, the restaurant Museion on the 2nd floor offers a varied menu including items like pork curry (540 JPY (incl. tax)) and seafood tomato spaghetti (650 JPY (incl. tax)). They also have playful dishes befitting a museum, such as the dinosaur footprint-shaped Salisbury steak (850 JPY (incl. tax)). Other than that, there is a cafe as well as a lounge on the 1st floor of the Japan Gallery, a resting area and a herb garden with around 150 herbs on the rooftop of the Global Gallery, so you can bring and enjoy a bento lunchbox or a light meal there.
Learn the origins of Japan in the Japan Gallery!
If you look at the Japan Gallery, a place designated as an important cultural asset, from the sky, you'll see that it's built in the shape of an airplane, a symbol of the advancements of science and technology at the time of its opening. In the north and south wings are 5 exhibition rooms and spaces for Planned Exhibitions, and inside the building is made in a Neo-Renaissance fashion. The stained glass that you can see from the center hall on the 1st floor is lovely.
The exhibition spaces mostly feature the origins of the Japanese archipelago and the diversity of Japanese flora and fauna. When you go to see it, it's recommended that you start from the 3rd floor. There are many things to see on the 3rd floor, including Japan's biggest crystal collection; meteorites that have fallen in Japan; a specimen of the plesiosaur Futabasaurus, a dinosaur that was first discovered in Japan, and more. On the 2nd floor, the elaborate figures that show the evolution of Japanese people are popular. There are also exhibitions about scientific and technological discoveries, such as the important cultural asset the Troughton astronomical telescope, Harumi Shibukawa's celestial globe, Milton's horizontal pendulum seismometer, and more. Theater 36O, the world's only dome-shaped theater that shows videos 360°, is on B1F.
Theater 36O, a 360° theater with impact!
Theater 36O, on the B1F of Japan Gallery, is the World Room from Japan Gallery's 2005 exhibit Love・Earth Fair that was dismantled and reconstructed. The dome is scaled to be 1/1,000,000 of the earth, and the inside is completely made up of screens. Inside you stand on a bridge and you can feel the video and intense music surrounding you 360°. You'll feel like you've become part of the video. There are five original movies, including Mantle Dynamics and the Movement of the Earth, The Journey of Humans, The Ocean Food Chain, The Last Dinosaurs, and The Universe: A Journey of 13.7 Billion Years, and they cycle through them. Each film lasts about 10 minutes. Let's enjoy the mysteries of the world on this impressive screen! The narration is in Japanese only, but it's worth checking out this sight at least once!
On the B1F of the Japan Gallery is a museum shop where they sell original goods, fossils, minerals, candy, and other examples relating to their exhibitions, making many of their items perfect for souvenirs. Why not get a fossil to decorate your room with? Please stop by and take a look.
Finally, enjoy the outdoor exhibitions!
There are various priceless exhibitions outside as well. You can enjoy large, impressive exhibitions such as the D51 steam locomotive that was used until 1975; a life-sized model of a blue whale, the largest creature living on the earth, the Lambda rocket launcher, and more. Why not take photos here?
The National Museum of Nature and Science has so many exhibitions and things to see, you'll end up losing track of time. You can take photos freely outside of the Theater 36O and places where there aren't photography prohibited signs, so please be polite and enjoy yourself!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
- Follow Wa-Oh! JAPAN
- Can't find it in a guidebook? Looking through this app will definitely make you want to go to Japan.
Sightseeing information to make you say "Wow!", updated every day!