Mind-blowing planetarium comes to Okinawa

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Mind-blowing planetarium comes to Okinawa

by: Shoji Kudaka | .
Stripes Okinawa | .
published: July 22, 2016

“Space Walk by MEGA STAR,” a record-breaking planetarium show that drew 660,000 people in Tokyo, comes to Okinawa for the first time this weekend.

Whether for the mind-blowing depth of the galaxy in “3D Sky Walk,” a hands-on experience, or for the breathtaking beauty of “Mugen Uchuu (Dream Space),” an artistic presentation that became a smash hit at Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, the show is sure to draw a crowd when it opens July 23. This is a must-see event for everybody from science-minded kids to couples in the mood for a night out or even stargazing enthusiasts who may not be big fans of stars simulated by technologies.

One of my childhood highlights in Okinawa was to watch the countless stars while lying on a beach late into the night. My family used to camp for a couple of days on the northeast coast of Okinawa’s main island during summer vacation. Unlike resort beaches on the west coast, the location was not crowded, and looking at stars without any artificial light was awesome. With no need to wake up early, I could spend hours just watching the summer stars and zodiacs as they made way for those of autumn.

As the lyrics of “Shimachu nu Takara (Treasures of Islanders),” one of the most famous songs by an Okinawan musician says, “The sky I saw back then was without doubt my treasure.” I’ll admit, recalling the “wow” moments I had on the beach as a child have me a little skeptical about a starlit sky recreated by technology. But I will say this: The “Space Walk by MEGA STAR” is more than just simulated space. It is the dedication and passion of planetarium creator Takayuki Ohira, who meticulously captures the light of every single star of the Milky Way and creates inspiring art in the cosmic space.

It was about 10 years ago that Ohira became a celebrity in Japan with his appearance in a TV commercial titled “Chigai wo Tanoshimu Hito (Person who enjoys the difference).”  This was an episode of the long running series of commercial for Nescafé, which cast prestigious actors, musicians, photographers and writers in the spotlight. Ohira joined the list of such artists shortly after he was listed in the Guinness World Records for his developing MEGASTAR-II cosmos, which projected 5.6 million stars at the time. To put that in perspective, according to the  MEGASTAR website, this is more than 100 times that of an average planetarium. That number increased to 22 million as of June of 2008.

Many musicians have collaborated with Ohira on various concert visuals after being inspired by the planetarium. A TV drama based on his memoirs was even made by a major network.

Although Ohira pursued his passion for re-creating the galaxy, it seems he has become a “star” himself.  Ohira’s show runs July 23 through Aug. 28 (closed Mondays) at Urasoe Art Museum.

Ticket: 1,200 yen (800 for middle and elementary school students)

Date: July 23 through Aug. 28 (Closed Mondays)

Time: 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (7 p.m. on Fridays)

Venue: Urasoe Art Museum (1-9-2 Nakama Urasoe-shi, Okinawa 901-2103)

Programs: In 3D spacewalk, 109 luminous objects and projected stars will be exhibited based upon the most up-to-date record of observation. This program will let you experience what it would be like to take a walk in the cosmic space. In Mugen Uchuu, 10 million stars will be projected by MEGASTAR-II

Website:
museum.city.urasoe.lg.jp/docs/2016070100036/  (Japanese)
www.megastar.jp/en/index.php  (cooperate website)