The Hichiso Precambrian Museum in Hichiso, Gifu Prefecture, looks like one of those projects undertaken during the Bubble Period when central government was doling out funds to the localities to stimulate Japan's "post-growth" economy.
The Nima Sand Museum in Shimane Prefecture springs to mind as a similar undertaking, where the splendor of the exterior architecture dwarfs the contents within.
The Hichiso Precambrian Museum in Hichiso is meant to resemble a space ship that has just landed in this rural backwater and it does just that.
The Hida River near Hichiso was where Japan's oldest rock going back 2,000 million years was discovered by a geologist from Nagoya University. The Hichiso Precambrian Museum contains this rock and other pieces of ancient rocks from around the world, a 4,000 million year old rock from Canada (the "world's oldest rock") and a 3,500 million year old lava pillow from Australia.
Visitors to the museum are first invited to watch a 15 minute video on the formation of rocks explained by a character called Recky to a trio of local kids. You are then transported in an elevator with lots of flashing lights to the Precambrian Age (the basement floor). Here there are lots of rock samples including precious stones and jewels and a model of the topography and geology of the local area.
Hichiso Precambrian Museum
1160, Naka-aso, Hichiso-cho, Gifu
Tel: 0574 48 2600
Hours: 9am-4.30pm; closed Monday
Admission: Adults 500 yen
Kamiaso is the nearest station on the JR Takayama Line or take Route 41 north from Nagoya or south from Gero Onsen.
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