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Humanoid robot Erica at Miraikan

The earliest robots (ロボット) in Japan could be said to be the karakuri mechanical dolls, such as those seen at the Takayama Festival, which gained popularity in the Edo Period (1600-1867). Centuries later, high technology spurred Japan's economy through industrial robots at manufacturing plants, while robot-themed, futuristic anime and manga series like Astro Boy and Gundam, provided inspiration for the potential of robots in society.

Faced with an aging society, Japan's robot technology continued to diversify to robots for healthcare and other service, including robotic exoskeletons that provide workers with additional support for lifting people or heavy objects and companion robots for both the elderly and the young.

A robot cooking okonomiyaki in Huis Ten Bosch

Tourists can view and experience robots in an increasing number of places in Japan. Below is a list of some of the country's best robot-related attractions:

National Museum of Emerging Science

Also known as the Miraikan, this well done, highly interactive and bilingual science museum includes a robotics section with several robots and androids on display, including Honda Motor's Asimo.
Huis Ten Bosch and Tokyo Disney Resort

Henn-na Hotel

Human contact is minimal at the futuristic Henn-na Hotel (lit. "strange hotel"), as most of the tasks from check-in to porter services are handled by various types of robots. The first Henn-na Hotel opened at Huis Ten Bosch, a theme park near Nagasaki, and a second one near Tokyo Disney Resort.

Kingdom of Robots

The Kingdom of Robots is one of the attractions at Huis Ten Bosch, a theme park near Nagasaki. The robot gallery showcases current robot technology, robot performances, robot toys and a section devoted to Gundam. Separate from the gallery, there is a restaurant mostly staffed by robots, as well as a kids area with large battle mecha robots for children to sit in and fight.

Honda Welcome Plaza Aoyama

Hours: 10:00 to 18:00
Closed: Golden Week, Obon and New Year holidays
Admission: Free
In addition to introducing Honda's newest cars and motorcycles, the Honda Welcome Plaza at the Aoyama-Itchome Station in Tokyo stages 2-3 daily presentations showcasing Asimo. The presentation is in Japanese with English displays on screen.

Robosquare

Robosquare is a showroom in the Seaside Momochi district of Fukuoka. The facility features dozens of robots, many of which are interactive. Robot performances are held daily. There is also a shop selling robot toys and souvenirs.

Tsukumo Robot Kingdom

The Tsukumo Robot Kingdom is a retail shop in Akihabara, selling all things robots. Found on the second floor of the Tsukumo Pasocon Honten II building, the store carries ready-made toy robots as well as DIY robots which have to be put together and are all not very large. Robot building parts and components are also available.

Pepper

Co-developed by Japan's Softbank company, Pepper robots can be encountered increasingly at shops and other service facilities across Japan where they help serve customers. Some of the stores where they are employed include larger Softbank cell phone stores as well as Nescafe flagship stores.

Robot Trade Shows

The International Robot Exhibition and the Japan Robot Week are the largest robot trade fairs held in Tokyo. Each trade show is held only every other year in alternate years. Visitors can see the latest in robotics technology including award-winning prototypes developed for agriculture, healthcare, manufacturing and more.

Robot Restaurant

Closed: Mondays
Admission: 8000 yen for the show, additional 1000 yen for a boxed meal
The Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku's Kabukicho red light district is a popular evening show offering visitors dinner, live dancing and entertainment. The show features mecha robot battles, assisted by bikini-clad girls - quite a deviation from the sterile image of robots.
Page last updated: January 17, 2017