If you listen closely to the announcement melodies at each Metro or JR station blaring over the public announcement system, once in a while you’ll find that odd station with its own unique tune. Imagine my surprise when I heard the familiar strains of the theme song to Galaxy Express 999 over the speakers when I arrived at JR Fuchinobe station in Kanagawa.
As it turns out, it is because this area in Kanagawa is home to JAXA Sagamihara Campus.
JAXA, short for the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, is the official space research and testing agency in and across Japan. Of its many famous campuses and facilities, JAXA Sagamihara is famous for its principal role in the launch of the Hayabusa, a Japanese-developed unmanned spacecraft; and subsequently for its curation of the re-entry capsule of said spacecraft.
JAXA Sagamihara Campus contains 2 Research/Administrative Buildings, a Structure and Mechanics Test Building in which rocket and satellite elements are tested and developed, a Flight Environmental Test Building – including a fully equipped wind tunnel facility to simulate flight at higher altitudes. The Administrative Buildings double as exhibition areas, it is here that a full scale model of the Hayabusa stands amongst other various exhibits.
Aside from tours in the main exhibition areas in the Administrative Building, JAXA Sagamihara Campus has plenty to offer outdoors as well. The plaza next to the Administrative Building features life-sized replicas of both the M-3 S11 Rocket and the M-V Rocket. Standing at 28.7m and 30.7m respectively, they are simply a sight to behold (and to take selfies with).
The gift shop here stocks tons of amazing space-related goodies, while the cafeteria retails some really interesting titbits and re-hydrated food which actual astronauts consume up in space. Note that the cafeteria and gift shop do not operate on weekends.
Entry to the JAXA Sagamihara Campus is free, and is open to the public 365 days a year. Simply sign in at the entrance to receive a visitor’s pass and you are good to go.
JAXA Sagamihara Campus is accessible using local buses No. 36 or No. 37 from JR Fuchinobe station, or with a 20 minute walk from the same station. Alternatively, take bus No. 02 from Sagami-Ono Station on the Odakyu line.