Wondering what to do with kids who have had too much sun or who want to explore, create and have fun on a rainy day? The Children's museum, library and planetarium is a great option – known as Kodomo Bunka Kagakukan in Japanese.
This museum originally opened in 1980, entry is free for everything except the planetarium show. There are two floors of activities for kids to enjoy (while learning about science), special workshops in Japanese and public access to the attached children's library.
Entry to the museum is free except to the Planetarium. The main building has a 1st floor science discovery area where you can manipulate machines to learn about gravity and electric currents and measure your speed by racing on a short track. There is also a maze that you can climb through and access the second floor or shoot down a slide at the end back to the first floor.
The second floor has model trains that you can push buttons to make move around the tracks, there are also simulation games on the computer screens where you can block imaginary soccer balls or take part in other games while appearing on a tv screen. There are many other science activities where you can wind and push and manipulate things to create fun effects, noises, lights and reactions.
The attached building is a public library full of childrens books. Most of the books are in Japanese, but there are some fantastic picture books and other interesting books that your kids might be interested in looking at whether they understand Japanese or not.
The Planetarium is on the top floor and there are 4 shows Tuesdays to Fridays and 5 shows Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. Apparently the first 2 shows on Weekdays are often fully booked by school kids on scheduled visits, but they will allow members of the public to join if there is space available. The show lasts 50 minutes. Entry is free for children under 6. The price for school-age kids is 250 yen and 500 yen for adults. Under 6 year old children must be accompanied by a paying adult.
Throughout the year there are special events held at this museum and special workshops held in Japanese for kids about science. This month, there is a talk about the lunar eclipse, transit of venus across the sun and "plants that act like ninja's".
Open: Tuesday–Sunday 9:00-17:00 (Closed every Monday or if Monday is a national holiday, the museum will close the day after)