The Japan Gallery at the National Museum of Nature and Science

The Japan Gallery at the National Museum of Nature and Science

Tokyo 2016.08.20

This article features the Japan Gallery, one of the permanent exhibitions at the National Museum of Nature and Science in Ueno, Tokyo.

Translated by Shinji Takaramura

Written by Mikako Utsunomiya

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The National Museum of Nature and Science, in Ueno, Tokyo, is a very popular museum with a wide variety of displays regarding science.

The museum has high-quality permanent exhibitions, along with special seasonal exhibitions. Visitors to the special exhibitions can view the permanent exhibitions for free.

There are two permanent exhibitions. At the Global Gallery, visitors can learn about the various creatures on earth and the progress of modern technology. The Japan Gallery describes Japanese history from the ancient to modern times, in regards to the evolution and ecology of its organisms, the natural environment, and how the native Japanese came into being. There are various displays, using precious and rare materials, along with many intricately re-created models. Let's take a look inside the Japan Gallery, where visitors of all ages can enjoy themselves.

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The Historic Architecture

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The Japan Gallery building, completed in 1931, has a rich history. Currently, the entrance is located in the basement floor, instead of the first floor.

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The interior offers a spacious feeling with an atrium spanning from the first to the third floor. It also has a solemn atmosphere, decorated with stained glass and stucco. Take your time, and be sure to appreciate the design.

There is an elevator at the back of the building, which is convenient for visitors using strollers, or carrying a lot of baggage. Let's go through the floors.

First Floor: "Techniques in Observing Nature"

The first floor describes in detail how the Japanese learned to observe the natural environment, and displays various instruments, such as watches.

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The Troughton astronimical telescope, which was the first telescope introduced to Japan, is designated as an important cultural asset by the Japanese government. It is a huge instrument.

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Be sure to check out the watches made in Japan. This is a taiko-dokei (drum watch) with a time-telling chicken ornament. The sound of drums chime at every hour.

Other exhibits, such as the oldest seismograph in Japan, and the reconstructed celestial globe, are also popular with visitors.

Second Floor: "Organisms of the Japanese Islands" and "Japanese People and Nature"

One of the zones of the second floor is titled "Japanese People and Nature." The displays shows how the native Japanese came into being, and the way they related to the natural environment. The human model reconstructed from excavated bones shows us how the bone structure of the Japanese people changed over time.

The display about the modern Japanese contains a small surprise for the visitors, so don't miss it.

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On the second floor, there is another zone titled "Organisms of the Japanese Islands". Visitors can learn how the organisms evolved in relation to the Japanese climate and topography. The finely crafted stuffed animals look like they are alive. The rare animals of the Ogasawara Islands are also on display.

Third Floor: "History of the Japanese Islands" and "Nature of the Japanese Islands"

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At the "History of the Japanese Islands" zone, many excavated fossils are on display. The photograph shows the zone entrance, with the reconstructed bone structure of Futabasaurus suzukii, the first plesiosaur found in Japan. It is approximately seven meters long, and the tail is jutting out of the photograph frame above. The original fossil is also on display, so be sure to take a look.

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A huge fossil of an ammonite, which became extinct about 65.5 million years ago, has also been found in Japan. It looks like a rock, and the caption explains that it was a difficult excavation. The actual sight of the fossil is enough to convince the visitors.

At the "Nature of the Japanese Islands" zone, plants and marine organisms from all over the Japanese islands are on display. The visitors can observe the wide variety of species, created by the difference in the natural environment. There is also a rare exhibit of the first meteorite that dropped to Japan.

At the Japan Gallery visitors can can gain a vast knowledge about the natural environment of Japan. It is surely worth a visit.

Photographs courtesy of the National Museum of Nature and Science

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