National Museum of Science and Nature, Tokyo

For parents who love the sciences and want to share them with their children, the National Museum of Science and Nature in Tokyo is a wonderful place to spend the day.  Located in Ueno park across from Ueno Zoo, this museum proved a surprisingly fun outing for my family when we found ourselves in Tokyo on a cold winter day.  The museum is housed in two distinct buildings: the smaller Japan Gallery and larger Global Gallery.  Enter through the Japan Gallery.  Admission is only ¥600 for adults; high-school age and under are free.  Be sure to drop your bulky items off at the lockers and head to the Global Gallery located out the back door of the Japan Gallery, up a short flight of stairs and to the left.  It is certainly worthwhile to visit every floor.  If traveling with younger kids, be sure to find the Science All Around Us room on the 2nd floor.  It is filled with hands on experiments that demonstrate principles of mechanical force, light, motion, electricity and more.  Even our 3-year-old could participate and there are many volunteers here explaining how it all works.  Additional interactive displays suitable for younger kids can be found on the 3rd floor including a unique collection of taxidermy wild animals.  Touch screen monitors around the exhibit allow you to see photos or watch short movie clips of each animal found in the large display case. Heading down to the basement levels be sure to stop at B2 for the impressive Evolution of Life exhibit which includes an extensive bone collection.  For older kids the best floor may prove to be the one at the very bottom, B3.  This floor is filled with hands on experiments that explore the laws of physics and matter.  Stay for lunch.  There is a restaurant that can be seen from the 1st floor exhibits and resides half way between the 1st and 2nd floor.   It is reasonably priced and has spaghetti and pizza on the kids menu… though there is shrimp on the kids pizza.  Open 9am-5pm, closed Mondays and Dec 28-Jan 1.
DIRECTIONS: It is easy to get here from The New Sanno.   Simply get on the train at Hiroo (H3) and get off at Ueno Park (H17).   Check this train map to get directions from Fussa to Ueno: www.hyperdia.com.  It predicts about 1 hour and 10 minutes travel time and gives several routes.  From what I could tell there is some paid parking near the Ueno Park train station.  GPS coordinates: 35.715729,139.777341. – Sarah Straus, December 2012.

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