When I went to see the lovely fukujuso flowers in the Shiga area two weeks ago, I decided to check out the Shiga Fossil Museum while I was at.
Though the outside of the building looks a bit dated, I was surprised how interesting the exhibitions were inside.
The main attraction is the almost entire fossilized skeleton of a sperm whale (see photo above) that was found in Shiga Village back in 1988 (That means Matsumoto used to be under the ocean!). There are also pieces from the fossilized remains of the Shinano dolphin, fish, shellfish, plants, shark teeth, and more.
The size of the humongous Californian sea lion specimen was especially impressive. I never knew they were that big!
For kids, there is a hands-on fossil area where they can touch, play with, and examine real fossils magnifying glasses and even microscopes.
Besides fossils, on the second floor you’ll find several real animal specimens, including a lion, snow leopard, bears, wolf, eagles, and more. Even though these animals are no longer living, it really gives you an idea of their sheer power and size! There is also a large exhibit of different types of shells and natural gemstone/crystal formations.
If you have a car, the museum is about a 25- to 30-minute drive from central Matsumoto. You can also take the Shiga Line bus from Matsumoto Bus Terminal (it runs infrequently, so make sure you check the schedule) to the the Kasekikan (Shiga Fossil Museum) Bus Stop. (You can see the bus schedule here, but it’s only available in Japanese)
Museum Hours: 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
Closed: Mondays (unless it’s a holiday, in that case it will close the next day). Open only on the weekends from December to February.
Admission: ¥300 for adults and ¥150 for children