The National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo is a large, rambling museum in Ueno Park that explores (in the main) the evolution of life on Earth. Its large themed displays, dinosaurs, and hands-on exhibits are a real hit with kids and its science and nature based exhibits are comprehensive and informative enough for adults to enjoy as well.
The museum has a long history (it opened in 1871!) and boasts a large collection of stuffed animals and dinosaur skeletons. There are plenty of modern exhibits though, including an exploration of the solar system, and several interactive galleries.
The two main areas of the museum are the Main Building and the New Building, which both have several floors to explore. The smaller Midori Kan Building is also worth a visit to see a giant pickled squid and the real (albeit stuffed) Hachiko – the legendary dog who waited for many years outside Shinjuku train station for his master to come home. Outside the museum you can’t fail to notice the life-size, steel, blue whale.
There is some English signage on exhibits but to avoid frustration it might be better to purchase an audio guide (PDA) for a small fee (¥300).
As you might expect for a museum of this size, there is a café, a restaurant, a museum shop, two lounges, and gardens. Make sure you check out the Parasol Garden on the Global Gallery roof – in a nod to quirky Japanese innovation the parasols open automatically as you approach!
The National Museum of Nature and Science costs ¥600 for adults to visit (children visit free). It’s open every day except Monday with the exception of national holidays when it is closed on Tuesday instead. Located in Tokyo’s museum-filled Ueno Park, it’s an easy five minutes’ walk from JR Ueno Station.