Narita 2016: Museum of Aeronautical Sciences

March 5, 2016

Bags? Dropped off in a coin locker at Narita Terminal 2. My day pack? Equipped. Yen in change for the bus? Check. City bus to the museum boarded? Yes.

The ride over to the Museum was about 20 or so minutes around the perimeter of the airport grounds with a few stops in-between. Excellent vantage points to admire the various Japanese airlines’ cargo buildings, haha.

After the bus dropped us off in front of the Museum, I walked in and purchased my ticket for 500 yen. I noticed a line forming behind the front desk. I went up to the line and noticed it wrapped back further into the museum so I followed it to get to the end of the line.

And it kept going.

Up the stairs.

Wrapped around upstairs some more.

I made it to the end of the line, but in following it, I went through the Museum’s Boeing 747 exhibit, which is a major section of the Museum. I noticed the harpist practicing (apparently the Museum had a harpist playing later?!). Several museum workers made some announcements and started handing out sequentially numbered cards. The line didn’t really move for a long while. And when it did, it was slow. I really got to view some of the exhibits for a while.

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Over an hour. That’s how long I stood in that line.

As I neared the end, I noticed it didn’t go into a part of the Museum that seemed like it had exhibits, but rather a store of some sort. I deduced that it was some sort of store based on the Japanese people carrying bags of stuff.

Finally, at the end of the line, I saw that it was, in fact, a store! Not just a typical gift shop, but rather a store that sells airline-related merchandise and actual things from airlines including stuff you’d find in the cabin, actual airline parts and seats, and other related things.

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As an opportunity to exercise the virtue of patience, I was indeed tested by waiting in such a line for a non-museum thing for over an hour! So when I got to the end, I was somewhat frustrated, but at the same time I thought it was cool that this museum was selling these things.

I did poke around, but I kept my weight/carry limitations in mind. As extremely tempting as it was for me to buy a galley cart, runway signs, or an actual business class seat to take home, I didn’t want to deal with the struggle of having to pack or ship such purchases. Also, I’m not sure why they were selling the stock American Airlines blanket for $40 USD. Really? Pfft.

Not desiring to leave empty handed, I did buy a Japan Airlines Cargo 747 die-cast model because they had a bunch of those for cheap. It now graces a bookshelf at home.

Long story short, if you ever go to the Museum of Aeronautical Sciences, the really long line isn’t for the museum.

As for the rest of the museum, let me briefly summarize it here:

  • Outdoor Exhibits – They have several aircraft outside. Mostly helicopters and small commercial aircraft. You can even enter in some of them. Also, they have a small fenced off area for kids to ride bumper car airplane things. Entertaining, for sure.
  • Kids Area – A large area teaching kids about flight and how airports work. There’s a also a large, interactive diorama of Narita Airport. Amusing distraction, even for me.
  • Boeing 747 Exhibit – Most notable is the Boeing 747 cutaway cross-section that shows you its top level, main cabin, and cargo hold. Also in the room are various things showing different aspects of the commercial jet. They also have a mock aircraft cabin filled with actual airline seats. Ya know, for that First Class feel without actually paying for it.
  • Observation Deck – Taking the elevator and stairs up, you can enjoy a cafe and view planes taking off from the nearby runway. You can also go on the rooftop portion. Always filled with Asians armed and shooting. Photos, of course. Me too, of course.
  • The Other Little Things – Scattered throughout are display cases of airplane models, cool pictures and aviation art, airline memorabilia/paraphernalia, and things that help educate on how planes fly. All in Japanese, but still worth checking out even for the illiterate.

Some pictures:

Despite waiting in line for an hour, I didn’t want to rush my way through the museum. Since it wasn’t that big, it didn’t take too long to go through. I will say that the city bus does have a schedule, and I was ready to go about 45 minutes before it came back around. I waited around outside for a while and walked around a bit. The Museum seems to be connected to trails and cultural information centers related to the city of Narita, but I didn’t want to go through those knowing that I would be leaving soon as soon as the bus arrived.

If you have time to kill before a flight (especially if you have an evening flight, which is typical coming back to the U.S.), I recommend stopping by at the Museum of Aeronautical Sciences! Definitely better than sitting around bored at the gate, haha.

For some more info on the Museum, click here.

-JD

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