What better way to spend our last full day with the Tomodachi crew (Kenji and Hannah) than to visit the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in Odaiba?
Miraikan, meaning ‘future place’, is a 7-storey science museum equipped with a planetarium occupying the top two levels. If you’ve never been to a planetarium before, you have to go. All your childhood dreams of flying into the solar system and/or memories of the mesmerising star galaxy screensaver from Microsoft 94′ days will come back in an instant as you recline back in your 45-degree armchair watching the curved ceiling around you transform into outer space through 3D glasses!
The planetarium session on this particular day was about how huge the universe is and the creation of stars… making us all feel very tiny on little old Earth. We must admit, it was quite hypnotising in there as it was the end of a long day, the seats were so cushiony and the voice-over was very soothing. Don’t tell, but I think we all had a mini power nap in amongst the stars!
The rest of the museum incorporated two other levels occupied by a special digital art exhibition that was divided into two parts. The first part started off with a walkway featuring computer-generated art with a twist: the art was being created in real time by a computer programme without repetition which meant that everything we saw was unique to that exact moment.
In the first room the projections on the wall were activated by human interaction, creating a dream-like experience filled with light, sound and music. Falling Japanese characters representing nature (such as wind, water and fire) floated across the walls, bursting into colourful animations with every human touch. When activated (by placing a hand on the Japanese characters) each of the animations would interact with one and other resulting in some amazing landscapes projected across all four walls of the room. Projections of birds, butterflies and the elements of nature were accompanied by a majestic orchestral soundtrack that seemed to ‘explode’ with the animations on the wall. Just amazing!
In another room, the four walls featured floor-to-ceiling mirrors whilst the floor was splayed in a colourful array of floral projections, creating a ‘secret garden-esque’ vibe. It felt very serene and peaceful in a night time, full moon kind of way.
The final room was a a series of light projections on five different screens, positioned in different rows overlapping each other. Now this was super mesmerising.
Of course we felt that it was necessary to take some #selfies and #museummoments in front of the projections…
The second part of the exhibition featured some more interactive art installations. Our favourite was an impressive wall-length aquarium on which animated sea animals were floating by as if we were peering into their underwater world. The best part? All the animals were created by the museum-goers!
Tables stationed in front of the wall were packed with kids young and old (including us) colouring in templates of fish, seahorses, jellyfish, sharks and squids. The A4 pages were then scanned into a computer before magically floating across the wall from left to right over the course of about five minutes. We loved getting our inner arts and crafts on. Can you guess which one was Alice’s?
The final one was a whole lot of giant coloured balloons that would change colour gradually over time or when pushed, bounced or kicked. The little kids were loving this balloon-filled playground.
The permanent exhibits were interesting as well, though we didn’t spend as much time here as the rest of the museum (due to time). These levels focused on androids and the ethics associated with this kind of technology. Another featured more general science and technology topics including the design of spacecrafts, how the body works, different fuel sources, energy conservation as well as some information on the Large Hadron Collider (the world’s largest and most powerful particle collider, and the largest single machine in the world).
All in all, an awesome geek-filled day at the museum! Check it out if you’re into science and technology, are staying in Tokyo and want a rainy day activity, or just love museums. Top tip: get off at Fune-no Kagakukan Station on the Yurikamome line (not Daiba Station as one might assume). From there it’s just a short 4-5 minute walk to the museum. More information here.
What was your favourite exhibit? Definitely the digital art exhibition. I could have watched the floating animations and layered wall projections for hours! So dream-like…
Did you learn anything new? That you can eat sushi in space! As demonstrated by video footage of a Japanese astronaut ‘catching’ his sushi with chopsticks mid-air inside the spacecraft. #skillz