Japan Travel in the Know: Japan is the Kingdom of Planetarium

The world's largest planetarium in Nagoya, Japan

Planetarium is thought to be for kids but worth visiting even for adults

When did you last go to the planetarium? If you haven’t been there for a long time, like since you were a kid, you should go. It would be much more fun than you think. When a show starts in pitch darkness, I always get overwhelmed by a huge number of stars that look to reach to my eyes, and feel like being hurled off into space. Planetarium shows remind me that I rarely look up at the night sky. In fact, we can’t see such a sky full of stars in real life because of the city lights, though.

I went to the planetarium two times this month. The first time, I fell asleep as soon as the show started. I know. It’s so embarrassing even for me to confess this after talking passionately about the attractiveness of the planetarium, but I’m the type of the person who will make lemonade when life gives me lemons. I came up with a good business idea: the planetarium will help people suffering from insomnia! However, there’s always someone running ahead. I soon found there were already some shows for sleeping. The second time was the sleep-inducing show I had a try on for my future reference. Ironically, I couldn’t sleep a wink during the program, though.

How to build a worldwide consensus on constellations

As I’m sure many people think that the same as me, most of the constellations don’t look like what they are named, such as Canis Minor. It’s just a single line, and never looks like a puppy no matter how hard and wild I let my imagination run. Every time I listened to the explanation about constellations in the planetarium, what stimulates my interest is not the crazy imagination of the ancient people to make up a puppy from a single line but the process to build a worldwide consensus on constellations.

The process must have been super challenging and chaotic because there was no correct answer but were a wide variety of views that differ from place to place. According to my research, it is in 1928 in the third session of the International Astronomical Union that a consensus about constellations was built. By the way, do you know how many constellations there are? There are 88, though I don’t know if you look at it as a lot or a little.

I have another interest about constellations. It’s their stories. I can understand ancient people enjoyed watching stars by connecting them to create some figures, but don’t you think stories are too well-prepared? All ancient people were such creative geniuses? As I looked into it, there was a reason. As Saint-Exupéry wrote, the stars were guides for travelers to know the right direction. It’s crucial for survival to remember stellar positions correctly. This is one of the reasons why people made up stories for constellations.

Cited from: Best planetariums in Tokyo | Time Out Tokyo

By the way, as I think it’s not widely known, Japan is the country of planetarium. Do you know how big the world’s largest planetarium is? It’s 35 m in diameter, and is located in Nagoya, Japan. The world’s third-, fourth-, and fifth-largest ones are also in Japan. Now, after the COVID restrictions were lifted, people come to Japan in droves from all over the world. Why don’t you come and try one in the Mecca of planetarium? You may think there’s no point of going to the planetarium when you come all the way to Japan, but planetarium shows are designed based on stars seen in the local sky. It’s also something you can only experience here. For your information, the planetarium in Asahikawa is in the science museum where you can experience our furniture as well.

Cited from: DOSHIN NANAKAMADO Machinaka showroom

Photo credit: https://japanshopping.org/search/shopping_articles/detail/the-worlds-largest-planetarium-will-welcome-you-lets-experience-the-wonder-of-science-with-five-senses


Shungo Ijima

He is travelling around the world. His passion is to explain Japan to the world, from the unique viewpoint accumulated through his career: overseas posting, MBA holder, former official of the Ministry of Finance.