The Keio Line principally connects Shinjuku to the western side of Tokyo with seven different lines running through to the likes of suburban city Hachiōji and the mountainous area at Takaosanguchi. All of it’s stations actually lie within the boundaries of Tokyo and, thanks to regular free tickets, Tokyo Fox has dug deep to come up with a few places worthy of visit beyond perennial favourites like Mount Takao and Tama Zoo……
#5 – National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) Mitaka Campus @ Osawa 2-21-1, Mitaka
What I know about science can probably be written on the back of a postage stamp but I will try my best to describe this place and what it does. Failing that, I’ll just blatantly copy it from the pamphlet I have about it! It should be noted that this place really is not so near to any station but Nishi-Chōfu (KO19) Station is actually the closest! It still takes 40 minutes on foot though! I am more than fine with walking for such a duration to get to a place I want to see but realise that many people aren’t! It is a pretty direct walk so buses are an easy option too.
This spacious campus is host to multiple interesting exhibits, observatories, research facilities and museums with the highlight being the 65 cm telescope dome which is the largest of its kind on the premises. There is a short staircase (just 10 steps) and a small observation space that has remained unchanged for the many many decades. The simple designed symmetrically round building (below), with its fading and peeling cream colour paint, was completed in 1921 and houses Japan’s largest retractor telescope.
It was originally located in Azabu under the name of Tokyo Astronomical Observatory before moving to Mitaka between 1914 and 1924, and much of the architecture is supposedly indicative of this era known as the Taishō period. I was a little pushed for time so didn’t get round every building but another one of note that I did see was the 20 cm telescope dome (below) which is the oldest building at NAOJ Mitaka Campus and both it and the aforementioned dome are registered tangible cultural properties which always sounds impressive but admittedly I don’t really know what it all means!
NAOJ is the centre of Japanese Astronomy possessing world leading research facilities and these tranquil premises offer an interesting insight into that world for anyone intrigued by it. Even I learned something and I may just need to get a bigger postage stamp now!
Click here to read ‘Hidden Treasures Along The Keio Line #1 – Nakayasu Hotel’
Click here to read ‘Hidden Treasures Along The Keio Line #2 – Mount Arigata’
Click here to read ‘Hidden Treasures Along The Keio Line #3 – Toko-ji Temple’
Click here to read ‘Hidden Treasures Along The Keio Line #4 – Earth Tech Char Sub-One’