Japan Museums: Tsukuba Expo Center
Tsukuba Expo Center つくばエキスポセンター
The two-story Tsukuba Expo Center opened in 1985 as part of the massive Tsukuba Expo '85 international science fair that Japan hosted here that year. This interactive, hands-on science museum is now showing its age, but is still very popular with young families with children.
Exhibits on show inside the museum include KAZ, a very high speed electric car developed by Keio University; the Air Bazooka, an air vortex cannon that shoots "air bullets"; and a "Sun Cruiser" that uses advanced visual technology to take the participant on a virtual trip to the Sun (and back). Exhibits featuring Japanese astronauts include a full space suit. The second floor of the Tsukuba Expo Center has exhibits on life sciences, the global environment, the nanoworld and a Shinkai 6500 undersea exploration vehicle. There is also a 3D theater on this floor with five or six screenings per day.
A large outdoor area offers more, with the star attraction being a 50-meter tall H-II Launch Vehicle. There is also a snow vehicle used in Antarctica, a H-II launch fairing and a JT-60 Vacuum Vessel used in nuclear fusion. The Rocking Rock (Yurugi Ishi) is a 50-ton rock that can be moved by hand.
The main draw of the Tsukuba Expo Center is, however, the Planetarium Hall where visitors can enjoy a virtual view of the night sky with over 380,000 stars in the 25.6 meter diameter dome, installed in 2012, using cutting edge digital projection technology.
The entrance hall has a small shop selling such products as foods eaten in space and books on science.
The Tsukuba Expo Center hosts regular events including science workshops on the 2nd and 4th weekends and scientific demonstrations on the 1st and 3rd weekends of the month.
Tsukuba Expo Center Access
Tsukuba Expo Center
2-9 Azuma, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, 305-1100
Tel: 029 858 1100
Hours: Daily 9.50am-5pm (last entry 4.30pm). December-January weekdays: 9.50am-4.30pm (last entry 4.30pm). Closed Mondays or the next day, Tuesday, if Monday is a national holiday.
Admission: 410 yen for adults; 210 for school students; planetarium adults 820 yen; children 410 yen.
The Tsukuba Expo Center is a short walk from Tsukuba Station just past the Tsukuba Museum of Art and the Tsukuba Public Library.