Since the beginning of time, people have always been fascinated with the wonders of the universe. In the morning, we only see the sun and clouds, but during the nighttime, that is when the sky piques people’s curiosity. Not every star and planet can be seen by the naked eye, which is why planetariums were made. Planetariums are a kind of theater where one can view stars, constellations, planets, and other parts of the galaxies. In Japan, there are a lot of planetariums that you can visit. Here are five of them!
The planetarium at the Nagoya City Science Museum is considered the largest planetarium in the world, measuring 20 meters in height and 35 meters in diameter. It is easily distinguishable because of its appearance – a gigantic silver globe between two buildings. Because of the museum’s partnership with Brother Industries, the planetarium was named “Brother Earth.”
Brother Earth has a different theme every month, and the schedule of shows can be found on their website. To project realistic and high-definition images, the planetarium uses the ZEISS UNIVERSARIUM Model IX, which is considered as the world’s most advanced star projector.
Konica Minolta is a major technology company that operates their own planetariums. In Tokyo, there are two planetariums: one in Sunshine City, Ikebukuro (“MANTEN”), and one in Tokyo Skytree (“TENKU”). Both planetariums use the latest technology from Konica Minolta.
“MANTEN” uniquely offers ‘lawn’ seats where you can lay down on the ground and ‘cloud’ seats where you can lay down on sofas. “TENKU” offers a futuristic style of seats, which makes visitors feel like they are floating in space. Both planetariums also offer English audio guides, just inform the staff at the ticket counter if you need one. Take note, however, that audio guides are limited and some shows do not offer English audio.
The Akashi Municipal Planetarium can be found in Akashi, Hyogo Prefecture, in the Kansai region of Japan. This “museum of time and space” has been open since 1960.
Akashi City is a “shigosen” or a “meridian city” because it lies at 135° east longitude. A meridian is a line of longitude that connects the true north and the true south. Different places in Japan showed different local times, and since that was troublesome, Japan Standard Time uses the time at 135° east longitude where Akashi lies.
The Tsukuba Expo Center was built for Expo ’85, an international science and technology exposition. Created with the theme “See, touch, and enjoy learning,” the planetarium is the main attraction of the expo center. Considered as one of the largest planetariums in the world, visitors can enjoy a virtual show of the night sky here.
Last but not the least is a planetarium in Hiroshima Prefecture. The Hiroshima Children’s Museum aims to be a place where children can learn through personal experience. The planetarium is on the 4th floor of the museum and it has a diameter of 20 meters. The shows change regularly and you can check the updated information on their website.
When you visit Japan, why not take the educational route instead? Planetariums show beautiful scenery that can’t be seen anywhere else, and aside from its wonderful projections, they also impart knowledge to their visitors.