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Vol.03 Kid’s Science Museum of Photons

Photon Boy experiences the mystery and fun of light in the science museum of light!!

Kid’s Science Museum of Photons

Driving through the well-maintained urban area in Keihanna Science City,
you’ll see an impressive looking cylindrical shaped building on a rolling hill.

This is the science museum of light constructed with the theme “The world is full of light and light is full of mysteries." Even in Japan such a place is rare and unusual. Do you know this museum? This is the Kid’s Science Museum of Photons, located in Kizugawa City in Kyoto Prefecture and managed by Kansai Photon Science Institute, National Institutes for Quantum and Radiological Science and Technology, Japan. This is a special place where you can "see, touch and play" with the various technologies that use light and find out about the nature of light itself. This is also a big place! It comes equipped with a lot of attractions including experience-based exhibition zones full of ideas, movie theaters and even hands-on workshop corners. I, Photon Boy, spent a whole day here learning all kinds of brand new things about light. If you want to know about light then this is by all means the place to see, and I hope you will visit over and over again.

The outside Lumigarden
The outside Lumigarden also has plenty of play equipment to enjoy,
all having light as its main theme.




the Photon Boy character
By January 2016, the total number of visitors topped 600,000. Congratulations everyone!
The photo shows the museum staff and the Photon Boy character who entertain visitors with various kinds of events.

“Rediscovery of Light” zone for leaning about light from the sun and its benefits for mankind

In this corner, I rediscovered the plentiful benefits of the sunlight that is all around us and we take it for granted. The light from the sun is what shapes all life on Earth. Human culture, human lifestyle and the arts have made remarkable advances since man started to make use of light as “lighting.” All of these good things came along with light and this corner made me once again feel how magnificent light is.


We are alive because of the sun. Shapes of the sun drawn by children.

This corner shows images under ultraviolet light. The photo on the left shows a male and female white butterfly seen with human eyes. The photo on the right shows the same state under ultraviolet light. You can see that the female white butterfly is brighter than the male. White butterflies seem to distinguish between male and female with their eyes that can see ultraviolet light.

This corner shows the interaction between the light and life on the earth. The left photo is a display of “coal” that seals in the sun’s energy from some 300 million years ago. The right photo is a display showing how “photosynthesis” occurring in aquatic plants creates bubbles or oxygen essential for animal life on earth.

Thermography experience corner. The high temperature points in people’s bodies appear as a reddish color and low temperature points appear as a bluish color. Thermography is technology that captures infrared rays invisible to the human eye by way of semiconductor infrared sensors and displays them on a monitor as colors that vary by temperature.

“Science of Light” zone and “Light Technology” zone help understand the properties of light and how to use those properties

In the “Science of Light” zone, you can experience mysteries of light found through advances in the natural sciences! I operated devices that reveal basic behavior of light such as reflection, refraction, and interference while feeling it with my body at the same time. The “Light Technology” zone showed me how we make use of light by way of many examples mostly centering on laser technology. It was great!


Light is electromagnetic waves. This large panel describes how wavelengths of light (electromagnetic waves) differ from each other.

Entrance to the “Science of Light” zone. Here you can find lots of experiential gadgets that you can operate yourself!

A strange and mysterious “Polarizing Tunnel” transforms you into a human who can walk through walls!

“Light Technology” zone. Light technology in daily life is not just about lighting that brightens up a room. In this zone, I saw mainly laser technology doing tasks such as measuring, cutting, and machining used in everyday life.

This device shows a property of laser light that goes straight without spreading.

“Optical Communications” exhibit. Optical signal commands to play a cymbal or tambourine are sent through optical fibers after emitting from the holes in a disc on the opposite side. Sounds from musical instruments are grouped by light color. So, for example, if you cover a red light with your finger, a musical instrument for that red light stops playing music.

Machining by Laser. Here you can even use a laser to make super-tiny holes needed when making parts!

“Laser Survey Instrument” exhibit. This instrument is partly a small telescope that you can look through to measure the distance to a remote target by laser beam. This works by aiming a laser beam at the target and then capturing the light reflecting back from the target. The distance to the target can be found by measuring the time needed for the light to return from the target. A really amazing tool!

Other displays and events

Besides displays and exhibits, the building also contains a “Laser Laboratory” light experiment show and a “Video Hall of Light” featuring a full-dome movie screen. The experiment time and movie play times are on a fixed schedule, so be sure not to miss it!


People waiting for the light experiment show to start in the “Laser Laboratory” corner.

Looking at the light source through a special film (transmission grating sheet) separates the light into the colors of a rainbow!

Here, while wearing protective goggles we see a strong laser beam aimed into the air producing sparking plasmas. The energy from the laser is really amazing! Lasers are now at work in various fields and I really understood their power. 

“Video Hall of Light.” Watching the video as if in a planetarium had a powerful effect on us.

This “Opening up the universe” panel is a cutting-edge introduction to the pioneering of space. In the “Space Frontier” corner we can see various kinds of exciting topics that boost your curiosity about science and technology.

Here, “Exploring the mystery of the ocean” gives us a look at different kinds of technology for surveying the ocean floor.

Do you want to know more about the Kid’s Science Museum of Photons?

http://www.kansai.qst.go.jp/kids-photon/ *Japanese