Looking for something to do in Hiroshima that will entertain both adults and kids? (And adults that are really just big kids?) Then look no further than the Ebayama Meteorlogical Museum. At only 100 yen for adults, 50 yen for children and free for infants it's also a very cheap way to entertain the whole family for an hour or more.
A word of warning to those expecting lengthy exhibits of meteorologically based apparatus and a history of the goings on of the museum since it's opening in 1935: almost everything is written in Japanese. So unless you can read it quite well you will more likely spend time playing with the hands on activities and enjoying the views from the roof than poring over descriptions of wind based instruments.
The building itself is historic. It opened as the Japanese first Prefectural meteorological observatory in Kako-machi, Hiroshima on January 1, 1879. The new (and current) building was completed in Eba-machi in 1935 and has many pre-war architectural elements. It suffered from the A-bomb blast during the war and lost staff and instruments but continued the observation on August 6, 1945. The effects of the bomb can still be seen on the building and on photos displayed on the museum's website. The building was designated as an important cultural asset by Hiroshima City on July 25, 2000.
Inside the door on the ground floor is a library where (if your Japanese is up to scratch) you can take a study tour of the weather and read about weather patterns. Continuing up the stairs there is a small room with an informational video and a poster with one of the only instances of English detailing the history of the building. Across the hall is a room with a scale model of the building and examples of meteorological instruments. However, it is down the hall is where the fun really starts!
Upon entering the Typhoon Box and pressing the button on the wall the door locks behind you with a click and mist begins to pour from grates and circle around you imitating a typhoon. The wind tunnel room does exactly what it sounds like it does. This room also automatically locks once the button is pushed until the display is over so if you have nervous children with you it's probably best to let them know that once they're in they can't get out until it's over. There is also an electricity display beside the wind tunnel that jumps into action at the push of a button.
The hands on room is filled with mirrors that distort your body into short and lumpy or tall and gangly. There is an enormous kaleidoscope to play with, mirror mazes, a hologram mirror and convex mirrors so you can see what you look like upside down!
Continuing on further down the hall will bring you to the stairs that leads out onto the roof. Up here there are several different levels, meteorological equipment and free viewing telescopes to peer through and take in the size of the city. The view is pretty good, especially since the museum itself is on a hill so you get a good panorama of the city. On the way out there is a small shop where you can purchase toys or souvenirs with the museum's sunny mascot on them.
Overall a cheap and entertaining way to spend an hour or so and families and children will particularly have a lot of fun here. Upon leaving it's also just a short streetcar ride back up the Eba streetcar line to the Cinnnamon Shokudo Cafe at Dobashi where the family can sit down and relax with a nice cup of coffee and a delicious lunch. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon.
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Originally from Ireland I came to Hiroshima for a year to teach English in elementary schools throughout the city. I blog about Hiroshima and my various escapades at http://japan-by-ciara.blogspot.jp/ When I'm not teaching, blogging or adventuring I can be found in an arcade posing in a purikura booth or playing the drum game, at home watching anime or hunched over my Japanese books trying to soak up the language.