2022/12/08Review of visit to IHIC by Dr. Miles Oglethorpe
I had been looking forward to visiting the IHIC for a long time, but the COVID pandemic frustrated me. So, I was very happy to finally make it to the Centre in early November, and I was not disappointed.
‘The Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution’ is a complicated group comprising many varied components, so trying to represent its many facets is a big challenge. However, the Centre is a presentational triumph, using a mixture of media to present the many parts of the World Heritage Site in an inspiring way. The story of what was at the time was an extraordinary industrialisation is told in a compelling way through outstanding displays and interpretation which bring it vividly to life. This is helped by the existence of some outstanding contemporary photographic records and documentary evidence.
I confess to having a personal interest in the Centre because elements of the World Heritage Site have Scottish origins and I was involved with the Scottish Ten project, which digitally documented the Giant Cantilever Crane and Kosuge Dock in Nagasaki, as well as other elements including No.3 Dock and Gunkanjima. I was therefore very keen to see how this work had been incorporated into the displays in the Centre. I was delighted to discover that it has been used to great effect, especially in the amazing Liquid Galaxy multi-screen interactive displays.
But, there is a lot more to the Centre than the exhibits and displays. Its informative and educational power is greatly enhanced by the availability of guides who can take visitors through key elements of the Centre in more detail, often with personal experience and knowledge, and there is an array of impressive leaflets with embedded augmented reality which are a lot of fun.
Many people visiting Tokyo and Japan as a whole for the first time tend to get overwhelmed by a torrent of information and visitor attractions. It’s unlikely therefore that the IHIC would be a first choice to visit, but I would argue that they should make time to see it. Anyone who wants to understand how Japan became the global force that it is now will find the answer here. IHIC is a hidden jewel in the heart of Tokyo, and is well worth taking time to visit.