Churaumi Aquarium is a major touristic atttaction of the Okinawa island and one of the great aquarium of the world. One can learn about the many lifeforms inhabiting the oceans around Okinawa and the main island of Japan. The highlight is without any doubt the enormous fish tank hosting nothing else than huge whale sharks.
Amateurs of Japanese trains will be satisfied at the SCMaglev and Railway Park, a museum dedicated to Japanese trains. The museum features historical and modern locomotives including a good selection of Shinkansen express trains and the new Maglev currently being developed. An impressive train diorama and train simulators are also popular attractions. Lucky winners of a lottery can test their driving skills in the Shinkansen simulator.
The Nagano Prefectural Shinano Art Museum, located nearby Zenko-ji temple, stages art exhibit from artists of Nagano prefecture. An annex of the museum, the Higashiyama Kaii Gallery, features artworks from Higashiyama Kaii depicting the beautiful scenery of Nagano prefecture (some examples here). Taking photos of the artwork is prohibited, but there was no issues with taking photos of the museum’s modern architecture.
It is somewhat strange to find a museum dedicated to Nikko in the middle of Gifu prefecture but the Sakurayama Nikkokan is definitely worth the visit. The Sakurayama Nikkokan features small-scale (1/10 scale) replicas of the Nikko-Toshogu shrine and other historical sites of Nikko. It took the 33 carpenters a total of 15 years to complete. The replicas are very detailed and give the visitors a different and interesting point of view compared to visiting the sites in person.
The Takayama festival, held in spring and autumn, is one of the most renowned festival in Japan. As part of the celebrations, big Yatai floats are pushed through the streets of Takayama. Although most of the Yatai are stored for the rest of the year, four of them are displayed year round in the Yatai Kaikan museum. Historical life-size figurines are used to recreate festival scenes of the past.
Takayama features many well-preserved buildings dating from the Edo period when the city was an important hub for Japanese merchants. To the North of Takayama, in the Houmeitaigumi preservation area, the Kusakabe Heritage House and the Yoshijima Heritage House are open to visitors. These small museums offer visitors an insight into the life of Takayama’s merchants in its glory days.
The Kyushu National Museum is one of the three national museums in Japan (the other three being in Tokyo, Nara and Kyoto). Exhibits at the museum mainly cover Japanese history. We did not have time to visit the museum but we did visit a small free exhibition gallery where one can play various games and instruments of Asian origin. There, I had the chance to play a real gong with a huge hammer, which was quite impressive.