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Zukan Museum Ginza

New Art Spot

No.007

A museum where visitors can encounter mammals, fish, insects, and other creatures opened in Tokyo’s Ginza in July 2021. Its name is Zukan Museum Ginza. Living creatures that inhabit every corner of the globe, from the northern to southern hemispheres, appear in spaces that reproduce their environment. This is a report on an unprecedented and new museum experience made possible by technology and creativity.

A new kind of museum where Earth’s time and space are packed into one

Zukan Museum Ginza is on the sixth floor of Tokyu Plaza Ginza, a commercial building facing Sukiyabashi crossing. This is a place where you can encounter various creatures found on Earth that appear in zukan picture books, and you can feel their breath. The museum has been well received by people of all ages, from children to adults, as it allows visitors to experience nature through all five senses as they tour a space and time where a variety of creatures co-exist.

The opening video begins in the first room, surrounded by a circular screen.

When you purchase a ticket, you will be given a navigation device called a Stone of Recording to enter the world of zukan picture books (Each group that purchases one ticket will be able to borrow a device free of charge). After an opening video plays in a room surrounded by a circular screen, the adventure begins. The museum is divided into five zones: forest, clear stream, river/lake, ant’s eye view, and grassland. Visitors are free to explore. Visitors can record the mammals and insects living in each zone using the Stone of Recording and enjoy their encounters while learning about the creatures’ ecology

When you approach a creature, a hint appear on the Stone of Recording. Once the creature performs an action described in hint, you can record it by pressing the record button. It will tell you the creature’s name and reason for the behavior.

The museum was launched by a joint partnership of seven companies: Sasaki Holdings Co., Ltd., Shogakukan Inc., AID-DCC Inc., Drill Inc., DENTSU INC., SUNNY SIDE UP Inc., and The Asahi Shimbun Company. Masahiro Kunori of AID-DCC Inc., who was involved in the launch, said, “We work in cooperation with Shogakukan Inc., a long-established publisher of picture books, to realize an interactive museum with the theme of ‘Life on Earth,’ combining the strengths of a digital entertainment team and a picture book publisher.” The editorial department of the Shogakukan No Zukan NEO, which has sold more than 11 million copies since its first edition in 2002, provided full support for all academic aspects of the organisms and their environment.

Masahiro Kunori, General Producer of Zukan Museum Ginza (Business Development Division, AID-DCC Inc.)
The Deep Forest Zone. Moose live in the northern hemisphere. Be careful not to get too close to the creatures, or they will be alarmed and run away.

Academic entertainment that allows people to learn naturally while playing

Zukan Museum Ginza, which was created in this way, attracts visitors of all ages, including parents with children and groups of adults. Many are repeat visitors.

In creating this museum, the focus was on authenticity. While there are other hands-on museums and events in Japan that use digital technology, Zukan Museum Ginza is unique in that it conveys life on Earth in an academic manner. In addition to the shapes and movements of creatures, the museum pays close attention to the representation of their environment, such as plants and trees of forests and the waterside where they live. While based on such academic findings, the balance of pictorial expression has been devised so that the images are not overly realistic and therefore frightening to viewers.

In the Ant View Zone, chairs vibrate along to the sound of insect footsteps, allowing visitors to experience an ant’s perspective. Insects that appear small to humans, such as ants and chafers, are powerful creatures here.
In the Underwater Zone, visitors can observe creatures living in rivers and lakes as if they were in water.

The changing landscape over time is also a highlight. In the world of Zukan Museum Ginza, a full day is condensed to 1/60th of a minute, so a day changes in 24 minutes. Creatures that can be encountered change, depending on day or night as well as the season.

The Wild Field Zone with creatures living in a meadow. The photo above top is a daytime view, the one below a nighttime view. Stars in the night sky are beautiful, and it is a nice way to spend time just sitting in the space without looking for creatures.

The ending changes depending on the creatures you encounter. This is one of the factors that keeps people coming back. Sensors set up in the venue allow the Stone of Recording to guide you about the creatures as your location is determined, and your own unique trajectory will be brought back to life as a story in the final room. When the Stone of Recording is set on the display showing a large Earth, the scene depicts the collected creatures returning to Earth.

In the last room, there is a large Earth screen in the center of the space surrounded by circular screens on which the Stone of Recording is set. The recorded creatures pop out from the set area and return to Earth.

After completing the ending, a Certificate of Record will be printed, listing which creatures are recorded, and one of the creatures will be given as a souvenir as an Original Creature Card. In addition, the museum shop (memoria official store) offers the Official Creatures Picture Book a one-volume collection of creatures encountered in the museum. The Original Creature Card comes with a sticker that can be collected in the Official Creatures Picture Book, which may be one of the factors that attracts repeat visitors. The ecology and characteristics are described in more detail there. So going home and reviewing the information will help you learn more.

From left: An Original Creature Card, which can be obtained when one of creatures completes the ending, Certificate of Record, and Zukan Museum Ginza Official Creatures Picture Book.

The experience lasted about an hour, but it seemed much longer, perhaps because time was condensed to 1/60th of an hour in this world. It was also a time when I realized once again that Earth is inhabited by a diverse range of creatures. Zukan Museum Ginza is where adults can return to their childhood memories and become engrossed in encounters with living creatures.

Japanese original text: Emi Sato
Photo: Aya Hatanaka
Translation: Kae Shigeno

INFORMATION

Zukan Museum Ginza

LocationTokyu Plaza Ginza 6F
5-2-1 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
TEL03-6228-5611
Business hoursWeekdays: 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Sat., Sun., and Holiday: 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Entrance feeAdults (18 years old and above): 2,500 yen (prices vary depending on the type)
URLhttps://zukan-museum.com/en/