Planetarium History

The First Planetarium in Japan

Zeiss Planetarium Model II of the Osaka Electric Science Museum

The First Planetarium in Japan

The very first planetarium visitors © ZEISS Archive

The Model II planetarium projector, number 23, from Jena was shipped to Japan in 1936 for the Osaka City Electricity Science Museum. Along with the museum itself, the first planetarium in Japan opened on March 13, 1937. The projector already had all the additional projectors for the Model II and remained in operation for 50 years until 1987. It is now on exhibit at the Osaka Science Museum, inaugurated in 1989. 

The former director of the Osaka Electric Science Museum, Hiroshi Tatsumi, reported on the beginnings of the Osaka Planetarium at a meeting in 1976:
"In 1923, the Osaka Municipal Government began supplying electric power to the city as a public enterprise. After ten years, when it celebrated its 10th anniversary in 1933, it planned to build an electricity science museum with the profits from supplying power. Therefore, it was planned as a pure "electric" science museum, and initially it did not include a planetarium. After construction began, the overseas inspection team sent by the Osaka Municipal Government reported that there were many great and very effective science education devices called "planetarium" in Western countries. It was a good opportunity to build a planetarium as a monument to the city's power supply, they said. ... However, it was very difficult to get the approval of the city council because its members did not know about planetarium devices and could not properly assess its effectiveness for education. Fortunately, after long discussions that stopped the construction halfway, this plan was realized thanks to the enthusiasm and efforts of the mayor and other dedicated employees. ... Although the standard Carl Zeiss planetarium had the ability to project in a 20-meter dome, only an 18-meter dome was considered for Osaka. The building's foundation had already been completed, limiting the maximum possible diameter. In any case, it was the city of Osaka that built the first planetarium in Japan, and a year and a half later the second was built in Tokyo."
From a paper by Hiroshi Tatsumi, at the I. P. D. C. (International Planetarium Directors Conference) held at Nagoya Science Center in 1976.


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The First Planetarium in Japan


Zeiss Planetarium Model II of the Osaka Electric Science Museum


Osaka, Japan


osaka, zeiss-planetarium, planetarium history, electric science museum



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