Driving cars and the Miraikan

Our last morning in Japan for this trip and I’m feeling anxious about the flight back. I hate these final days, again wishing that yesterday’s Tokyo Teleport station was true to its name.

If the flight home is less bumpy than yesterday’s visit to Odaiba then I will be happy indeed.

We were early to the Toyota Mega Web building and had to wait an hour for them to open at 11am. Alex was very proud to achieve his “licence” learning to drive an electric Pius car around the indoor track of the Drive Studio.

Afterwards, in the Mega Theatre, we strapped ourselves in for a bumpy ride as the screen showed first person perspectives of Toyota cars racing around test and dirt tracks. There were also various simulators and other computer based competitions. Alex won his round of the Global Discovery Tour.

We have visited various science museums across the world but Odaiba’s Miraikan’s Museum of Emerging Science and Technology would have to be one of my favourites.

As we were about to enter I got bailed up by a group of nervous students from Terajima Junior Highschool with a short English survey.

Hanging over the entrance to the exhibition floors is the Tsunagari, a giant Earth sphere covered with array of small square screens. The screens show satellite images of the Earth, sometimes conveying other information. It is both beautiful and impressive.

Less about trying to explain basic scientific principles the Miraikan instead showcased various technologies. There was an impressive live demonstration of Asimo, a walking (hopping) robot whose smooth movements made him more human than the human androids also on display.

We watched a demonstration of extracting DNA from chicken liver and Alex went crazy in the Songs of Anagura interactive, his projected companion following him around. I especially liked the optical illusions exhibit which tricked the eyes into believing feats of anti-gravity.

My all time favourite science demonstration was a cloud chamber, where radiation is visualised. High energy particles leave little clouds of bubbles in the liquid, cosmic ray muons making long straight lines, electrons with lots of kinks and alpha particles small but dense clouds.

There was also a mock-up of the Super Kamiokande neutrino detector, a rocket engine, space station module and many others of interest.

It was late when we left the Miraikan and we had a unimpressive dinner in the Diver City food court after walking past the giant Gundam statue in front.

A couple of trains delivered us to Kichijoji, an interesting looking area where we found bags of Shisheido Kuraya body wash. We need not have bothered as we found more in the same chain pharmacy in Shinjuku later on.

We were all struggling with exhaustion as we searched the various Yodobashi electronics stores for things, including an n-scale model of vending machines.

The day ended with a meal at Sakura Sushi across the road from the hotel, then watching the lights of Shinjuku gradually shut down in the late hours.

Tonight we fly for Cairns and then Sydney. Hoping that it will be smooth.

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