Listen to the sound of Wakamaru
The Robot Museum subsequently closed 31 September 2007
Japan's first robot museum opened in Nagoya this month. The 2-story museum occupies some prime real estate in downtown Sakae not far from the Louis Vuitton store and Softbank and just south of the TV Tower.
The site, a former import car shop, actually comprises the museum (which you pay to enter) and an adjoining robot department store - "robot mirai department", a hi-tech interior design shop by the Italian-Japanese firm Hattori Lusso and a swanky family restaurant imaginatively named "famires".
On the ground floor is an exhibition of industrial robots manufactured by the German company Kuka. You can put the impressively flexible robots through their paces by pressing a control panel and they will even draw your picture after you stand in front of a sensor screen.
The attendant explained that the robots were on vacation from their factories in Germany and were enjoying themselves in Japan. Right.
After collecting my iPod mini with explanations (in Japanese) to the exhibits upstairs, I went to have a look. The first part of the museum is a poster display of the history of robots: book covers, film posters and the like.
There are also models of early robots including Edo Period karakuri mechanical dolls. The exhibition then leads the visitor through the different stages of robot technology in the 20th Century and the representation of robots, cyborgs and automatons in art and film: Star Wars, The Terminator, Gundam, Atom Boy, Doraemon are all here in model and poster form.
The most interesting part of the museum is the final section, where the visitor can see the robots themselves in action and control some of them with PlayStation like control pads. Wakamuru shaking hands (lovely rubber grip by the way), Paro (the world's most therapeutic cyber seal), Aibo (the Sony dog), a weird lifelike talking chimp's head and even a robotic Hello Kitty.
1300 yen seems a bit steep for what you get, but definitely more fun than an import car showroom.
The robot mirai department store is certainly worth a look. It's free and includes many of the robots on view in the Robot Museum including Paro and the chimp's head. There is also a range of Gundam kits, Atom Boy t-shirts and some interesting hi-fi paraphenalia.
Admission ¥1,300 (adults); ¥900 (junior/senior high school); ¥600 (children). Mon-Fri 11am-7pm; Sat, Sun 10am-8pm
Tel: 052 957 1640
Access: Sakae subway station.
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