National Museum of Nature and Science

Not just for kids!

The National Museum of Nature and Science is split between the Global Gallery and the Japan Gallery, but it’s the Japanese building that’s a delightfully only-in-Japan view of the natural world.

Front and center are the truly excellent life-size dioramas depicting Japanese of yore. The thing I love about these is that they chose moments in the lives of ancient people and really brought them to life. Although they’re obviously using past-sell-date technology and wearing clothing that’s so last epoch, their expressions and reactions are exactly like people today.
You can practically hear this mom prodding Junior to pay attention to his pontificating old teacher instead of pestering her to let him go play video games
The evolution and breeding of roosters and other living things that are seen as being especially “Japanese” are explored in depth…
…including rice, chrysanthemums, goldfish and…dogs. The five kinds of extremely proud-looking Japanese woofers are all represented, including the ACTUAL stuffed Hachiko (she’s the white one) whose statue is everyone’s favorite meeting place outside Shibuya Station
Kabutomushi (those inexplicably popular pets) are also well-represented in all their niche-occupying Darwinian glory
And a room of indigenous species features (among others) the world’s scariest looking rabbit

The Global Gallery focuses mostly on biodiversity and evolution, and the exhibits are quite ingenious.

For example, the obligatory stuffed animals in the hall of mammals is a giant roundabout of beady animal goodness

Open: Every day, except closed Mondays (but if Monday is  holiday, the museum is open on the Monday and closed on Tuesday), and also closed from 12/31-1/3

Hours: 9:00 – 17:00, open late on Fridays until 20:00

Admission: Adults: ¥620, Children (up through high school): Free


The Last Tea Bowl Thief was chosen as an Editor’s Pick for Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense on Amazon

 For three hundred years, a missing tea bowl passes from one fortune-seeker to the next, changing the lives of all who possess it…read more

“A fascinating mix of history and mystery.” —Booklist

Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Japan, produces the monthly e-magazine Japanagram, and blogs at Only In Japan and The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had

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