Hello, Asimo: A Visit to Tokyo’s Miraikan Science Museum


If your inner nerd yearns for a glimpse of the future and you find yourself in Tokyo, it’s a good idea to stop in for a few hours at Miraikan. It’s Toyko’s National Museum of Emerging Science and Technology, and it features a close encounter with the world’s most famous robot.

Globe

Earth, made of hundreds of tiny video screens.
Photo by Michael Johnstone

The island of Odaiba itself is somewhat of a marvel. The island is entirely artificial, initially built for defence of the city, but was converted into public green space in the 1990’s. It’s a breath of fresh air in the world’s largest metropolis. Filled with parks and lots of open space, it’s a great place to get away too if the neon and traffic starts to overwhelm you. The island is accessible by monorail which provides gorgeous views of the Toyko bay.

 

An interactive, mechanical model of the internet. Endlessly fascinating. Photo by Michael Johnstone

An interactive, mechanical model of the internet. Endlessly fascinating.
Photo by Michael Johnstone

Take a peek inside a replica of the International Space Station and pretend you're an astronaut. You know you want to. Photo by Michael Johnstone

Take a peek inside a replica of the International Space Station and pretend you’re an astronaut. You know you want to.
Photo by Michael Johnstone

Miraikan is filled with little wonders. From robotics to biology, seismology to cosmology, there’s a nice variety of scientific exhibits throughout. But on my visit I had one goal in mind: to catch a glimpse of Asimo, Honda’s robotic humanoid who’s known the world over.

Asimo does shows at 11am and 2pm, so time your visit accordingly. If you get there early, you can get a better viewpoint as there’s no seating and viewers must gather around the staging area. If you’re travelling with children don’t worry–they’ll be ushered up front for the best view. But be forewarned: Asimo’s movements are so lifelike at times that it’s a vision of the uncanny. A few children were disturbed by the unnatural sight of a faceless, man shaped machine walking toward them and there was at least one child that broke into tears. But for the rest, there were looks of amazement an wonder.

Which is likely the look that was on my face as Asimo walked out. He introduced himself to the crowd, conversed with the staff, danced, showed off his soccer skills, and generally made everyone fall in love with him. If you ever cross paths with this little guy, you will too.

Asimo

Photo by Michael Johnstone

One thought on “Hello, Asimo: A Visit to Tokyo’s Miraikan Science Museum

  1. Pingback: Into the Uncanny Valley: Why Scientists in Japan Are Spanking Robots | The Asian Persuasion

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