Robot Museum in Nagoya, Japan: our first and last visit

Those reading Engadget last year might recall our unbridled excitement for the opening of the largest, most extensive (if not the first) museum dedicated to robots and robotics: the Robot Museum (aka Robothink). So you can only imagine how incredibly crestfallen we were to hear that just after a year of entertaining and educating the robot loving hordes, the museum announced that it is shuttering permanently.

Well, we couldn't let this monument to the bots we love go undocumented before the humans have to hit the kill switch, so this week we got our asses on the Shinkansen out to Nagoya, Japan in order to fulfill our androidiest electric-sheep dreams and hit up the museum before it's dismantled for parts. And none too soon, it turns out the museum actually closes its doors forever this Sunday. One day we will all pay for this.

Galleries below of the museum and its expansive robot shop -- be warned, over 150 photos of Robot Museum robots and exhibits and shopping await you. Read on for our thoughts about the museum.


So the Robot Museum is organized into two sections: the museum area, and the Robot Mirai Department robot shop (or, as their sign says, "pay" and "free", although calling an expensive robot shop "free" is a little ironic). We'll get to the RMD in a sec...

So the first thing we did -- even before buying tickets -- is ask the attendant at the ticket sales booth whether the rumors of the museum's closure were actually true. She told us, with great disappointment, that it is indeed the case. The museum closes on the 30th, and everyone will have to find new jobs. (Now would be a good time for a really disrespectful joke about the irony of humans working for robots, or the robot museum's closure due to its lack of cheap robot labor.)

So you can probably imagine how bittersweet it was for these people to be showing all these children how to play with robots, knowing that it's one of the last times they'll get to inspire the wonderment only really great robots can. We asked whether there were any plans to reopen the museum later, but while it's not out of the question there are currently no plans in place for re-opening.

Things we absolutely loved: Scale Maria (from Metropolis), Segway training course, Robot Academy TK, robot animation studio, video of a little girl doing the robot, like, REALLY well

Robots and meatbags among the curiously absent (or otherwise not spotted by our imperfect human optical scanners): QRIO, KITT, Bender, Japanse robo-restaurants, David and Joe (from A.I.), busts or statues of Aasimov and / or Čapek.

On the store: TONS of robot stuff is for sale. Everything from paraphernalia (robot keychains, towels, shirts, etc.) to actual parts for repairing and maintaining your robots, to brand name robots (anyone want to drop over $2k on a Nuvo?). If you're able to get to Nagoya before the whole thing shuts down, head to the store fast! Lots of their stuff is two or three for one, or marked 30-70% off. (Sorry, almost all their expensive robots aren't on discount at all.)

Highlights: Finally getting to pet Paro, the Guinness-certified therapeutic seal.

Score: 9 / 10 articulating humanoid finger-claws - we started to tear up when we had to leave.