March 9, 2019

Capstone 2019: Japan – Day 1!

After a long flight and a good rest some of the students met at McDonald’s for breakfast. McDonald’s is in the same complex as the Shinagawa Prince Hotel, where we stayed the first night, and is across the street from Shinagawa Station. The McDonald’s seems to be busy all the time, and food is served to you outdoors, just like the food carts back home. Pancakes and apple pie proved to be a popular choice.

Soon it was time to depart. The group met in the lobby of the Shinagawa Prince and made our way to the Shinagawa station. Some of us purchased Suica cards, which allow users to preload funds for use on the various trains. We used the JR lines to go to Risupia at Panasonic Center. This part of Tokyo is celebrating the 2020 Olympics. We quickly discovered how crowded rush hour trains can be here. People will continue to push into the train until the doors can barely close.


Risupia was a demonstration of science and technology geared toward children. Each visitor is handed a device to wear around their neck. The device is tapped to special pads throughout the facility and it levels up as you learn more. Some of the kids called it the Sheikah Slate, a device used in the most recent Legend of Zelda video game from Nintendo.

Students learned about scientific and mathematics concepts like pressure (both air and water) and Pi. There were two science shows, both involved audience participation, and many interactive exhibits.


Water Science Museum

From Panasonic Center we walked to the Water Science Museum, where students learned about the lifecycle of water, from the forests to our drinking cups, and showed students how everything is connected. We watched a short film and explored a forest setting on the second floor. The first floor waterfall and water exhibit was very popular, and the basement taught us how water is pumped into the city from rivers. The staff boasted that their water fountain had the best tasting water, and some of the students agreed.

Tokyo Mega Web

We crossed a walking bridge to Odaiba, where we stopped at Tokyo Mega Web. Toyota had many vehicles on display, including some of their visions for the future of transportation. They had devices that were similar to a Segway, a small hydrogen vehicle that would seat one person and a larger hydrogen vehicle that was similar in size to a Honda Fit. The students were also able to have a short driving lesson in small electric cars!

From there we walked to Diver City at Odaiba to see the life size Unicorn Gundam. It was massive. Some of the students were able to use the gachapon machines before we moved on. Gachapon are similar to the quarter machines in the United States, dispensing small toys, but they cost between $3 and $5.

After seeing the Gundam, we got back into the trains and returned to Shinagawa, where the students prepared to meet their host families!