Updated on July 2, 2019
The wooden dome on the second-floor of the 65-cm Telescope Dome
(Observatory History Museum)
The National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ), situated in the west of Mitaka City, is a long-established astronomical research institute. The Tokyo Astronomical Observatory, its predecessor, was founded over a century ago. On the Mitaka campus, set in a beautiful natural environment, you can find research buildings and various other structures dating back as far as the Taisho era.
Of particular note is the 65-cm Telescope Dome, a distinctive large dome building that stands 19.5 meters high. Visitors gaze up in amazement at the soaring 65-cm refractor telescope at its center. This two-story wooden dome was built with the cooperation of ship builders. The first floor, where a system to lift and lower the observation floor used to operate, is now an exhibition space for historical observational instruments, rare books, and other items. The dome is open to the public as the Observatory History Museum. Many buildings, including the dome, along the visitors’ walking course are designated as Tangible Cultural Properties of Japan, showcasing pioneering intellectual pursuits of the universe.
On the grounds, there is the Mitaka Picture Book House in the Astronomical Observatory Forest, operated by Mitaka City. Inside this old folk house-type building that used to be the official residence of the NAOJ, you can read picture books and enjoy hands-on exhibits that will expand your interest in astronomy. In the spacious yard, you can try traditional Japanese games such as walking on stilts. This picture book house attracts many children on weekends and holidays.
Gain intellectual inspiration by feeling the advance of civilization within the lush greenery of the Musashino area.
◎Take the JR Chuo Line to Musashi-Sakai, Mitaka, or Musashi-Koganei stations or take the Keio Line to Chofu station. From there, take the Odakyu or Keio bus and alight at Tenmondai-Mae bus stop.
[National Astronomical Observatory of Japan]
Phone: . Open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (The last entry for admission is 4:30 p.m.) Closed during the year-end and New Year holidays. Website: https://www.nao.ac.jp/en/ (External link)
[Mitaka Picture Book House in the Astronomical Observatory Forest]
Phone: . Open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Closed on Tuesdays and during the year-end and New Year holidays. Closed for maintenance (July 1-6 and other days). Website: http://www.city.mitaka.tokyo.jp/ehon/ (External link)
The reading room in the Mitaka Picture Book House in the Astronomical Observatory Forest