Scene, Sunday, July 1, 2007

When Captain Ahab was in search of a great whale, he took the Pequod out to sea.

I wonder if he’d have had a smoother voyage if he had shopped around a bit beforehand.

Now, if I were in the market for a ship, the place I’d do my shopping would provide the variety of options that can be found at the Museum of Maritime Science in Tokyo.

Make no mistake, this museum is all about ships. In fact, the facility itself is built like one.

From wooden hulls and speed boats, the museum has all a seafaring person could ask for, albeit in smaller versions.

The museum’s three floors above the surface have models of every type of ship or boat imaginable, ranging from old wooden Japanese vessels to battleships used in World War II. And the underwater exhibits can be found in the basement, which I thought was genius.

It must be noted that although the museum labels each of its exhibits, nothing is in English except for a small pamphlet that shows what’s on each floor with a one- or two-word English translation for each exhibit.

But the exhibits do have diagrams that are somewhat self-explanatory, such as how the steering works and how thick a steel hull is. Just follow the pictures.

There are many interactive parts to the museum. You can take your turn at maneuvering a toy ship or catch an informational video, although you had better understand Japanese.

One of the busiest places at the museum is the lookout tower. From the Rainbow Bridge to the many interestingly designed buildings that make up the Tokyo skyline, the tower offers a nice vantage point to take that postcard-type photo.

As you depart the building that looks like a ship, make sure to check out the real one next door, the Soya, which was Japan’s first ship capable of going into the Antarctic region.

And, yes, just outside the museum is a yellow submarine. Any fans of the Beatles out there?

If you go

Access: 2 minutes on foot from the Fune no Kagakukan Station on the Yurikamome Line.Opening hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (6 p.m. on weekends and holidays)Admission: 700 yen for adults; 400 yen for children.What to tell the taxi driver: Fune no Kagakukan

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