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Planetariums in Tokyo

Want to visit the outer reaches of space but still be back in time for hotpot? Then head to one of these planetariums within Tokyo

By Tabea Greuner
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Central Tokyo may be too bright at night to truly appreciate the starry sky, but that doesn't mean you're limited to just TV documentaries and books to learn about our solar system and the universe at large. Here's where Tokyo's many planetariums come in. These out-of-this-world institutions let you gaze at a reflection of our galaxy in a comfortable setting, doing away with the need to crowd around a telescope out in the deep country. These planetariums not only put on breathtaking shows regaling the wonders of outer space (synchronised to music, no less) – some of them even have unique sofa seats in the shape of clouds or UFOs, thus delivering the full experience for stargazers of all ages.

 

RECOMMENDED: 88 things to do in Tokyo

Where to gaze at the stars

Cosmo Planetarium Shibuya

Attractions Shibuya

If you’ve been to Shibuya, chances are you’ve already admired the iconic silver-coloured dome of the Cosmo Planetarium, which sits on top of Shibuya’s Cultural Center Owada. Venture inside and you’ll be even more impressed. The cosmos is projected onto a domed screen, allowing you to boldly go where few have gone before. Plus, the seats also rotate individually so you get to behold the heavens at your own leisure.

Konica Minolta Planetaria Tokyo

Things to do Yurakucho

Back in 1938, Yurakucho became the very first area in Tokyo to house a planetarium. Sadly, it was destroyed during the war in 1945. But now, 80 years later, a brand-new facility has opened with two large domes and a virtual reality attraction. The first dome, a multi-purpose digital theatre, is equipped with an 8K ultra-high-definition screen that stretches from floor to ceiling. The second dome houses the planetarium, also kitted out with the latest technology. The result is as close as you can get to outer space without leaving central Tokyo.

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Katsushika City Museum Planetarium

Things to do Cultural centres Katsushika

Found in Ohanajaya out in Katsushika ward, this planetarium is the first in Japan to display a ‘digital universe’, created using all the planetary data collected throughout history. Making full use of this cutting-edge technology, it curates original programmes – all featuring a live narration (in Japanese though) – once every three months.

Konica Minolta Planetarium 'Manten'

Attractions Ikebukuro

Conveniently located inside Ikebukuro’s large Sunshine City complex, one of the biggest planetariums in Tokyo lets you combine your visit with a shopping spree. Konica Minolta Planetarium ‘Manten’ boasts impressive ‘starry skies’ and impactful screenings with special seats that make you feel like you’re lying on soft grass (¥3,500 for two) or floating amongst clouds (¥3,800 for two). Ask for English audio guides at the ticket counter.

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Gingaza (Galaxy) Planetarium

Things to do Cultural centres Tateishi

If it wasn’t for the faux-space shuttle on the outer wall, you’d probably have a real hard time finding this planetarium. The Gingaza is housed inside a Buddhist temple, making it the first of its kind in Japan. Essentially a one-man show run by starstruck monk Kasuga, the planetarium features a different programme every month, with the show narrated live by Kasuga himself (who speaks English, Italian, German, French and Romanian on top of Japanese) and an assistant who combine to offer an enjoyable mix of informative tidbits and cosmic jokes. The show only runs on certain days and is so popular you’ll need to book via a lottery system on the website.

Planetarium Bar

Bars and pubs Shirokanedai

A planetarium for adults, this bar has its own Megastar Zero Platinum planetarium projector. To the uninitiated, this projector is a big deal – it was created by Japanese engineer Takayuki Ohira and can project over five million stars, a feat officially recognised by the Guinness World Records. As for the bar, beer, wine, cocktails and whisky are offered alongside light meals such as Spanish jamón ibérico and uchu-shoku (space food) curry.

More indoor activities in Tokyo

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