Robotics Day at Miraikan

Sunday, April 01, 2018

Miraikan is Japan’s National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation found at Tokyo Academic Park in Daiba, Tokyo. Miraikan is Japan’s center of science and technology and the said museum displays interactive exhibits, as well as ground-breaking inventions that place the country (still) in the most advanced position when it comes to futuristic and technological progress.

Japanese Robotics and Scientific Inventions at Miraikan Museum

I find joy in reading techno-thriller books and sci-fi and AI movies, that I can’t let this robotics museum pass. Getting inside Miraikan is like being on a field trip where adults can still be awed like a child again. And if you’re like me who enjoys this type of museums and science exhibitions, then you’re in for a treat!

robotics museum in tokyo
National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan). The ticket counters are located outside the building.
what the museum is about


I. Robotics

It’s undeniable that Japan still holds the title of Robotics Capital of the World, despite Simi Valley having its technological breakthroughs of its own. I mean, there’s a life-size Gundam in Diver City! They have androids, humanoid robots, social robots, mobility robots, and a lot more. Japan encourages increase growth in the robot industry by 2020 because of a number of reasons. Two of these are (1) the aging population and (2) healthcare.

robots information at miraikan museum

One, because of the aging population (with Japan’s median age at 46) and less birthrate, there’s a shortage of manpower in labor forces. Robots are currently “employed” to do jobs at the factory and provide help at home. Second, the human-facing AIs can assist in health and social care for the elderly and disabled. In addition, robots are also viewed as important companions in their everyday life.


II. What to See in Miraikan

Tons of hands-on exhibits can be seen at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation. There are permanent and special exhibitions, as well as sought-after activities and workshops inside the museum.

staircase
seats
museum entrance on the third floor
museum map guide

Most people stay at the third floor where the different types of robots and interactive activities can be found.

large globe
The Geo-Cosmos represents the daily image data of the earth taken from weather satellites. The graphic images such as the movement of clouds, temperature change, and ocean acidification can be viewed here. You can see the Earth's changes every minute. It is made up of 10,362 organic LED lights.
globe made up of LED lights
Aside from scientific content, the Geo-Cosmos also displays art content.
future of the earth
At Miraikan's Backward from the Future exhibit, you have the freedom to choose what type of future you want to see. This is the type of Earth you will leave your descendants 50 years from now.
backward from the future exhibit
You will have a glimpse of what will happen to your chosen ideal Earth.
manual internet exhibit
This exhibit is a hands-on model of the internet. This shows how the 16 white and black balls send messages from one terminal to another. However, I wasn't able to try this as the waiting time was around 40 minutes. If you come in at Miraikan, I suggest you register here first and come back for your turn.

III. Miraikan Favorites

I personally love inventions and new technologies so I found myself liking these the most.

1. Honda’s Uni-Cub

Honda uni-cub machine
honda machine

Honda is known to create cars, but you don’t need a driver’s license to ride this personal mobility device called the Uni-Cub. It’s designed to move around in barrier-free indoor environments and can run up to 4 miles per hour. 

uni-cub machine lessons
uni-cub machine demo
uni-cub information board

How do you steer it? Simply shift your weight forward, backward and side-to-side. I started slow with the Uni-Cub and got the hang of it. There’s a booth at the ground floor of Miraikan which allows you to try the compact device for 10 minutes at ¥500. 

2. Paro

Paro is a robot seal that serves as a pet and companion for Japan’s elderly. In fact in 2002, Paro was recorded in Guinness World Records as the first animal therapy robot. The seal robot was designed to respond to human voice and touch, and you can actually see his eyes, mouth, and flippers move when you try to pet him.

furry seal robot
robot pet seal information

It’s actually therapeutic to pet Paro. However, you might have to wait for your turn because you’ll find children hovering (and touching and pulling) over him most of the time. If you’re not an animal lover, Paro will definitely warm your heart. Oh how I’d love to cuddle him!

3. Otonaroid

Otonaroid, a literal combination of Japanese words “adult” and “android”, is a humanoid robot that resembles a female in her 30’s. The ways she tilts her head from side to side, twitches her brows, and moves her mouth make an uncanny resemblance to an actual human being. While she seemed to be an exhibition, Otonaroid is regarded as an “employee” at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation as a humanoid guide for visitors.

humanoid robot information board
female human-like robot

At certain times during the day, visitors can have the opportunity to talk to her and notice her speak and blink. Even breathe. The life-size, remote-controlled robot was made with silicon skin as well as artificial muscles. She was created by Japanese robotics specialist Hiroshi Ishiguro who has been developing robots for more than two decades.

4. ASIMO

Finally, my favorite out of all the robots at Miraikan is ASIMO. He’s a very popular figure at the museum and you’ll soon find out why. ASIMO stands for Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility, which was developed and launched by Honda in 2000 as “the world’s most advanced humanoid robot”. He weighs 119 lbs and stands 4 ft 3 in.

humanoid robot demo space

We waited for the 4:00 PM demonstration and the crowd easily filled up the demo space. All throughout the 10-minute show, ASIMO was able to run, show hand movements, bow slightly as the Japanese would, show his dance steps, kick a ball, hop on one foot, and do sign language. To be honest, there were more adults gathered in front of the demo space than children. That’s how interesting and amazing ASIMO is!

honda humanoid robot
honda robot dancing

ASIMO toured around the world since his debut. He rang the bell at NY stock exchange in 2002 to open trade sessions, and demonstrated his abilities across Canada, UK, Spain, Australia, Russia, and United Arab Emirates.

I wished we were able to allot a full day at Miraikan because spending half-day at the museum wasn’t enough. There were tons of activities to try and exhibits to see at the third floor alone. I hope to be back to check-out the entire museum and to watch ASIMO again!


How to Get to Miraikan by Train

1. From your starting point in Tokyo, ride the metro subway train and get off at Shimbashi station (Asakusa line).

train transfer

2. From Shimbashi station, walk towards Shimbashi station of Yurikamome line. This line services Odaiba across the Rainbow Bridge.

train station transfer

3. Purchase ticket at the machine. You can either choose a one-day ticket pass (¥820) or a single ticket (¥390).

ticket machine and train ticket

4. Ride the automated and driverless train and alight at Telecom Center Station.

train station
telecom center station odaiba

5. Walk 6-10 minutes towards Miraikan.

museum shop

Schedule: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM (closed on Tuesdays and selected holidays) 
Ticket Price: ¥620 (adults), ¥210 (18 years old and below)
Overall Rating: 4/5


Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. The contents of this entry are purely my opinion and 100% honest based on my travel experience.

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