Science museums have a hard time getting into guidebooks, especially instrument collections.

So let me share a couple for anyone planning a trip to Japan. Everyone will (and should) visit Kyoto, and while the standard attractions are wonderful, the devoted student of scientific instruments will want to visit the Shimadzu Foundation Memorial Hall.

It is right in the city and commemorates the rise and rise of the Shimadzu corporation over the last century from its beginnings in this building.

As an anime DVD hagiography explains, Genzo Shimadzu started the business making Physics teaching equipment and then moved into research and diagnostic systems.

They started with exact copies of American  equipment and continued to do so even after the end of WW2. But they are very proud of their more recent original research with a staff member, Koichi Tanaka sharing the 2002 Nobel Prize for Chemistry.


The museum is not large, but is very stylish, and has a particularly impressive early diagnostic x-ray setup with a giant HV generator named "Diana".


Peter Hadgraft is now building a cardboard model of it that I brought back.

Not far away is a canal museum and railway for transferring barges between canals but I did not have time to visit it. It is a good place to view cherry blossoms, though.

I did not find much old technology in Tokyo, but the small city of Matsumoto had plenty. We had come to see the famous castle and the ukiyo-e museum, but a diligent search of the local guide brochures revealed the existence of a Timepiece Museum, a Wireless Museum, and a Scale Museum. We had time to visit only one, so chose the Scale Museum.

It was in a traditional building that had formerly been a shop sellling scales and other metrological instruments, and has a small but interesting collection.


Some of the most interesting were scales used for separating the cocoons of male and female silkworms.


I also liked the little square wooden boxes with a volume of one go (180 ml) originally used for rice but now mainly for serving sake. (The photo below was taken elsewhere, there is now one in the Physics Museum collection)


The attendant would not let us leave without serving us tea in the tatami-matted library.

The castle is good too.