Have you ever watched Japanese television?
Japan has its very own television culture. For foreigners like me, it feels completely different and new from what I am used from TV in Germany. There are commercial television stations as well as public broadcasting. The Japanese channel corresponding to channels like the British BBC is called “NHK”. Recently, “NHK World” can be seen in various countries. Maybe you already watched NHK. Today, I would like to introduce you a fun broadcasting museum where you can learn about public Japanese TV and NHK!
The “NHK Broadcasting Museum” is on the top of Mt. Atago. Mt. Atago is 25.7 m in altitude and it’s also the highest peak in the 23 wards of Tokyo (as a natural mountain). Walking up to the top is a pretty good exercise. However, for parents with strollers and handicapped people, there is also an elevator so you can easily go up.
There is an information counter just in front of the entrance. There are pamphlets, program postcards, and free stickers. Yay! Also, the admission is free, which is of course a big plus.
Right next to the info desk is a small shop where you can buy NHK goods. They do have “Domokun” goods (NHK ‘s internationally popular character)…and I wanted all of them!^^
The first exhibition area of the museum shows “vintage” broadcasting equipment, like TVs and radios.
On the second floor of the museum, there is a theater where you can watch 8K (high resolution) videos on a big screen. Because our schedule didn’t match the theater’s showing times, we missed out on this one. However, looking at tweets and blogs on the internet, I regret that I didn’t wait a little longer. Everyone who made this “8K video experience” seems to be very pleased. So when you visit, you should definitely check it out.
Become a newscaster!
My personal highlight was the “Broadcast Experience Studio” on the second floor of the museum. Here you can see how a “blue screen” works. In recent movie productions blue screens aren’t used as much anymore. Nowadays, “green screens” are becoming more popular. That said, NHK still has many programs and TV shows that are recorded in blue screen studios.
When you are standing in the blue painted studio area, blue clothes as well as silver or gold accessories (that reflect the light and the blue color of the surrounding) completely disappear on the television screen. Everything blue becomes one with the CG background.
Next to the “Blue Screen Experience Area” there is a corner where you can learn about the principle of the three primary colors. This is important, because every type of screen – your TV, your computer, your smartphone – works by mixing just three colors: green, red, and blue.
Even for me – being an adult – it was nice to get the chance to play with the colors and to mix them. If you ave children, this would be great to experience. You don’t need any (or many) words to understand how a screen works when you get the chance to play around a little.
I think, it’s amazing how great the quality of the screens we use nowadays have become. I still remember those old TVs where you could actually see the three colored dots when you got really close. Today, you need a magnifying glass to be able to see them.
The last experience corner was a news studio. My friends and I became a news announcer and weather forecaster, in the blink of an eye. We made our own news program using the equipment they actually use in a (simple) news studio. It was super fun!
There is one new thing I learned in the museum. It is something I have always wondered: how can a newscaster “read” his or her manuscript while at the same time looking straight in the camera. How is that possible?
I know about teleprompters which are electronic devices that digitally show text on a screen for a person to read. But when you use a teleprompter, you wouldn’t need the manuscript, right? So so what’s going on?
The answer is surprisingly easy. Actually, there is a camera hanging from the ceiling in the studio. The camera is pointed at the news manuscript in your hands. The picture is shown on a prompter right next to the main camera so you can look at the text without really “looking” at it. By doing that, a newscaster is able to make notes or even change the manuscript and read it while looking right at the camera.
At the third floor of the museum, there is a “Broadcasting History Zone” and a “Special Exhibition Room” where you can see sets of TV dramas which are currently being broadcasted.
The NHK Museum of Broadcasting is a museum that can be enjoyed by all age groups. It is a great place to go with you family (especially when the weather is bad). Although there aren’t a lot English descriptions, the exhibition was very easy to understand. When you visit with your children and an adult gives some supplementarily explanations, it should be enough to understand how TV shows are made and how a TV screen works.
Also in Shibuya, there is a similar facility called “NHK Studio Park”. This is also a nice exhibition center focusing on NHK programs broadcast in Japan. However, “NHK Studio Park” is more about recent TV programs. The “NHK Museum of Broadcasting” at Mt. Atago wasn’t as crowded, and the balance of introducing “TV history”, “technical explanations” and “experience” was very good.
It’s a great place to visit with your family and friends!!
NHK Museum of Broadcasting
Hours: 9: 30 to 16: 30
(Closed every Monday unless it is a National Holiday)
2-1-1, Atago, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Kamiyacho Station (Hibiya Line, Exit 3) 8 min
Toranomon Station (Ginza Line, Exit 1) 13 min
Onarimon Station (Toei Mita Line, Exit A5) 10 min