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Science picks

National Museum of Nature and Science - Museum: Ueno
[Open 9am-5pm. Closed Mondays.]
This is an outstanding natural history museum, with beautiful, curiosity-inspiring exhibits exploring the animal and plant kingdoms and the prehistoric world. It's also a real bargain - general admission to the vast permanent exhibition areas is...
Hara Model Railway Museum - Museum: Yokohama Sta.
[Open 11am-5pm (enter by 4:30pm). Closed Tuesdays.]
Two gigantic room-size layouts are the main draw at this impressive model-railway attraction. The larger diorama is European in character, with urban streets, town squares and outdoor restaurants, as well as a couple of mountain resorts connected...
Railway Museum - Museum: Omiya
[Open 10am-6pm (enter by 5:30pm). Closed Tuesdays.]
Train enthusiasts shouldn't miss this impressive, expensively produced railway-history museum located about thirty minutes north of Shinjuku in Saitama Prefecture. The showpiece here is a collection of thirty-five real train cars and full-size...

Natural science

Abiko Bird Museum - Museum: Chiba
[Open 9:30am-4:30pm. Closed Mondays.]
Located on the north shore of Teganuma Lake, around 45 minutes from central Tokyo, the museum focuses on the avian wildlife of the lake as well as the world of birds in general. After a visit to the museum you can stroll along the lakeshore trail...
Food and Agriculture Museum - Museum: Setagaya-ku
[Open May-Nov 10am-5pm; Dec-Apr 10am-4pm (last entry 30 min. before closing). Closed Mondays.]
If you're interested in taxidermied roosters, cactus plants, sake paraphernalia, ancient farm tools, modern architecture or lemurs, then this quirky little museum has something for you. Run by Tokyo University of Agriculture, the Food and...
Intermediatheque - Museum: Marunouchi
[Open 11am-6pm (Thu, Fri 8pm; entry until 30 minutes before closing). Closed Mondays.]
The Marunouchi district is teeming with smart new shopping-dining-office complexes, but Kitte ("postage stamp"), brought to you by the Japanese Postal Service, is the only one with its own natural-history museum. Or is it a contemporary art gallery?...
Jindai Botanical Gardens - Park/garden: Chofu-shi
[Open 9:30am-5pm (last entry 4pm). Closed Mondays.]
Tokyo's largest botanical garden, Jindai is planted with 120,000 trees and bushes representing 4,500 different species. The 750 cherry trees in the cherry grove turn this into a major destination during hanami season, and the plum and rose gardens...
Meguro Parasitological Museum - Museum: Meguro
[Open 10am-5pm. Closed Mondays, Tuesdays.]
Forget the usual superlatives for Tokyo - the highest concentration of pachinko balls in the world, the greatest number of geographically challenged taxi drivers anywhere, etc. - what really makes me want to punch the air in civic pride is knowing...
Planetarium Manten - Planetarium: Ikebukuro
[Open 11am-8pm daily.]
The planetarium was completely renovated in July 2011 and equipped with the latest computer graphics and high-quality audio systems. There are usually several shows on any given day, taking place in Planetarium A, Planetarium B and the very relaxed...
Shibuya Fureai Botanical Centre - Park/garden: Shibuya
[Open 1-6pm. Closed Mondays.]
A mini-botanical garden close to Shibuya Station, the compact greenhouse here is crowded with more than 200 kinds of tropical plants as well as a few tanks full of fish and bugs. The facility runs weekly gardening classes (in Japanese) and holds...
Yumenoshima Tropical Greenhouse Dome - Park/garden: Shin-Kiba
[Open 9:30am-5pm (enter by 4pm). Closed Mondays.]
More than 1000 varieties of tropical and subtropical plants grow inside this 1500-square-meter dome-shaped greenhouse located in a park next to Tokyo Bay. Some highlights include giant water lilies, jade vines, Chinese banyan trees, flowering...


Chiba Institute of Technology - Attraction: Oshiage
[Open 10:30am-6pm daily.]
Wondering what Japanese robots are up to these days? Find out at the Tokyo Skytree campus of Chiba Institute of Technology, which is actually just a couple of exhibition spaces located upstairs from the Skytree's shopping-mall complex. One area is...
Extinct Media Museum - Museum: Otemachi
[Open 11am-7pm. Closed weekends.]
This charming hands-on museum is jam-packed with now-obsolete gadgetry that once represented the cutting edge of technology and industrial design. Hand-cranked movie cameras, pre-war film cameras, manual typewriters and early-model laptops are...
ICC (Inter Communication Center) - Attraction: Hatsudai
[Open noon-5pm. Closed Mondays.]
ICC explores the interface between electronic technology and the arts with varying degrees of success. Some of the installations here seem more like cool toys than groundbreaking art, but there's always some fun stuff to look at and play with.
Metro Museum - Museum: Edogawa-ku
[Open 10am-5pm. Closed Mondays.]
Recently refurbished, the Metro Museum focuses on the Tokyo subway system, with several hands-on driving simulators, a big model train layout (with shows four times a day), and exhibits of subway cars through the ages, tunneling equipment and...
Miraikan - Museum: Aomi
[Open 10am-5pm (enter by 4:30). Closed Tuesdays.]
There is more than enough to keep you (or any children you happen to bring along) busy for a whole day in this beautifully housed and expertly presented museum. The personal cinemas in the library section alone have more than 600 science videos....
Mitsubishi Minato Mirai Industrial Museum - Museum: Yokohama Minato-mirai
[Open 10am-5pm (enter by 4:30pm). Closed Mondays.]
Fans of rockets, ships and big machinery in general will find a lot to see in this two-story technology museum run by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Exhibits focus in particular on the realms of aerospace, deep-sea exploration and shipping. There's...
NTT DoCoMo History Square - Museum: Ryogoku
[Open 10am-5pm. Closed Sundays, Mondays.]
It's an entire museum devoted to old cellphones! The history and culture of mobile communication is the theme here, and visitors with an interest in Japanese industrial design can trace the evolution of mobile-phone fashions through the years. ...
Pepper Parlor - Cafe: Shibuya
[Open 10am-8:30pm (LO) daily.]
If you can't get enough of Pepper, the odd-looking humanoid robot often found lurking in SoftBank shops, now you can visit a cafe staffed by an army of Peppers. There's a crew at the cafe's reception desk to greet you, and individual Peppers at...
Petit-Escalator - Attraction: Kawasaki
[Open 10am-9pm daily.]
Petit-Escalator, the shortest escalator in the world, is located in the basement of Kawasaki More's Department Store, across the street from Kawasaki JR station. Five steps and 83.4 centimeters in height, the escalator takes approximately eight...
Science Museum - Museum: Takebashi
[Open 9:30am-4:50pm (enter by 4pm). Closed Wednesdays.]
Aimed primarily at younger visitors, the focus here is on basic science and technology, with lots of hands-on exhibits, although many of them look like they were put together a few decades ago. Driving simulators in the Waku Eco Motor Land section...
Toshiba Science Museum - Museum: Kawasaki
[Open 10am-5:30pm (Sat, Sun -6pm). Closed Mondays.]
Aimed primarily at school-aged children, this science and technology museum covers a broad range of topics, including image-recognition technology, paper recycling, geothermal generation, smart buildings, and nanotechnology. Many of the exhibits...
Water Science Museum - Museum: Ariake
[Open 9:30am-5pm (enter by 4:30). Closed Mondays.]
H2O from A to Z. Everything you ever wanted to know about water. Small and quiet, but it's free and fun enough to justify popping in if you are nearby. As with most museums in Japan, considerable thought and money has obviously gone into the...