Educational Museums in Tokyo That Are Actually Fun

ByMichael Stigall
May 30, 2023

Educational Museums in Tokyo That Are Actually Fun

There is something about science that can capture a child’s imagination. Whether it is the natural world, robotics, or outer space, getting to grips with our surroundings can be spellbinding for young fertile minds. However, in an age of iPads, YouTube, and easily accessible cartoons, it can be challenging to turn little ones onto these fascinating subjects. This is why the museums around the city are such godsends for parents wanting to find something educational for their children to enjoy, particularly during the upcoming summer holidays.

National Museum for Nature and Science

This is easily your first stop to take your little ones somewhere educational. Celebrating its 140th anniversary this year, the recently refurbished National Museum for Nature and Science, or Kahaku as it is also known, is an excellent way for visitors to get to grips with the nature and science (obviously) of Japan. Permanent exhibitions include an exploration of Japan’s prehistoric flora and fauna with a fully recreated plesiosaur skeleton and Japan’s oldest fossil; the development of animal and plant life throughout the ages; the historical voyage of the Japanese people; and the Theater 360, a movie theater in spherical 3D, in which a seamless sphere of video and sound surrounds the viewer.

It’s a large museum that takes two to three hours to get around, so you may want to take advantage of the restaurants and coffee shops if you start flagging.

Where: Taito, Uenokoen, 7-20 (map)

Admission: Adults 630 JPY; High school students and under free

Edo-Tokyo Open-air Architectural Museum

Due to fires, floods, earthquakes, and warfare, much of Tokyo’s historic architecture has been wiped out, but at the Edo-Tokyo Open-air Architectural Museum (also called Tatemonoen), you can tour more than 30 historic homes and businesses in their original condition. More like a village than a museum, it enables visitors to enter and explore various buildings of different styles, periods, and purposes, from upper-class homes to pre-war shops, public baths, and Western-style buildings of the Meiji period.

It is an excellent, hands-on experience for the whole family. Bear in mind that, as the museum spans seven hectares, a lot of walking is involved.

Where: Koganei, Sakuracho, 3−7−1 (map)

Admission: Adults 400 JPY;  Seniors, High school students, and under junior high students from outside Tokyo 200 JPY; College students 320 JPY; Tokyo junior high school students and children below junior high Free.

Gas Science Museum

A museum set up by Tokyo’s gas company doesn’t sound too enthralling, but this is a great interactive experience for children to enjoy. There are plenty of physical activities at the Gas Science Museum, with various pumps and tunnels ensuring that kids are always running, crawling, and pumping their way through the facility.

It’s a wonderful venue for both educational activities and physical play, and there are very few other places at which your children will raise a hot air balloon, operate a massive gas-powered toy wok, or get their hands on a flame thrower (though it’s much safer than that sounds).

Where:6-1-1 Toyosu, Koto-ku, (map)

Admission: Free

Science Museum Tokyo

Dealing with various topics, from mechanics, CO2, and global warming to robotics, the Science Museum Tokyo is more fitting for older kids (teens and tweens). While they still enjoy the activities, younger children may struggle to grasp the concepts involved. The exhibits begin with a look at the technology of bicycles, followed by electricity, motors, and motor vehicles, where children can use a car, motorcycle, or truck simulator.

As you move up the levels of the five-story museum, you continue into galleries on space, the universe, and the future before finishing on life sciences, the body, optics, computers and DNA, and the human genome. It really packs things in, and the easily approachable museum staff will try to help explain the exhibits in English if required.

Where:2-1 Kitanomaru-Koen, Chiyoda-ku (map)

Admission: Adults 950 JPY;  Junior and Senior high school students 600 JPY; Children 4-12 years old 500 JPY; Preschool and under is Free.

Tokyo Water Science Museum

Like the Gas Science Museum, the idea of a museum created by the Tokyo Metropolitan Waterworks doesn’t exactly leap out and grab you. Still, the Tokyo Water Science Museum is another great interactive museum that children love. There is water play, interactive digital games that teach kids how water enters and leaves our bodies and an Aqua laboratory. There is also a water theater and forest space to help children learn about forest conservation, the water’s journey, and how it gets from the forest to your tap.

On top of that, there is also a tour of the Ariake water facility, though this may be less interesting to younger children.

Where: 3-1-8 Ariake, Koto-ku (map)

Admission: Free

Daderot, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

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