National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan), Japan

“He had me at Arigato gozaimasu”. He asked me to clap my hands, I clapped. He asked me to bow my head, I bowed. He asked me to dance, I danced – whatever he asked me to do, I willingly follow. I’m in love, what can I do. He is not your average guy- he is intelligent, cute in a technical kind of way and very mysterious as he only do two appearances in a day (11:00 am & 2:00 pm). The only problem is his too young for me (10 years old) but maybe in human race his age is much older. His name is ASIMO and he lives at National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation or popularly known as Miraikan in Odaiba, Tokyo.

ASIMO (Advanced Step in Innovative MObility) is a humanoid robot created by Honda. He can interact with human and can do a lot of things. He can kick a ball, run, do handshakes, wave you hello, distinguised sound, recognize your face and the best of all- he voluntarily asked for a music and do the robot dance (awesome, robot dance done by a robot!).  Seeing ASIMO is like a realization that yes, I am really in Japan where technology has a way of awakening my childhood fascination with Science.

Miraikan, by far is the best museum I have seen. If you are planning a visit to Tokyo specially with kids in tow, make sure that a day in the museum is a priority in your plan. Entrance fee is comparatively inexpensive (600 Yen for Adults and 200 yen for kids), they offer discount for groups of 8 or higher and there are museum staff at the entrance who will warmly greet and help you in purchasing the ticket. Offering the best in Japanese innovation and technology at the same time emphasizing the importance of taking care of the human body and the planet, navigating the museum is like stepping into one vast of world of wonders and I can’t help but get a bit emotional as if realizing my childhood idea of what a science museum should look like.

There are 4 areas of Permanent Exhibition, divided into two floors and connected by an oval bridge with a fascinating huge replica of Planet Earth . The 3rd Level consist of a) Innovation and the Future b) Information Science and Technology for Society c) Science Workshop. This is where you can find ASIMO, robotics, future home appliances and workshop for kids. The globe reproduction in the middle is what they called “TSUNAGARI Project”.  It’s a fascinating way of appreciating our mother planet by seeing it into different stages – Earth today (from weather satellites), Earth 4 seasons (from NASA), Temperature Change (expected climate until 2100), Ocean Productivity (oxygen and organic substances) and Art Content (by graphic designer Ingo Gunther). I love the mock classrooms where all the kids are wearing lab coats and a facilitator is explaining how a dog robot was developed.  On the 5th floor, you will find more about astronauts, genomes, DNA, medicine, environment, radiation and what human can do to save the planet. So in general, the presented idea at 5th floor balances the technology that the 3rd floor offers- its like simply reminding us that as our daily living becomes more convenient because of technology, environmental destruction is happening in parallel and we must act to save the planet.

There are volunteers everywhere who will explain to you any question you have in exhibit but mostly are Japanese speaking. If you are confident with your mathematical ability, then you might give it  a shot and solve the unfinished equation on the blackboard.

When I was in the museum I have on thing in mind, how I wish I have my little cousins and the rest of the kids back home with me, be able to share with them what I am seeing- the beauty of science. Maybe this will encourage them more to study harder at school and to dream someday of becoming an Astronaut, a Doctor or an Engineer (not my kind haha!) instead of what the television has been promoting-  the next winner of Idol or Got Talent search.

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