The Okuizumo Tane Museum of Natural History in Shimane Prefecture, western Japan, is a rare complex that is both a museum and hotel, and a recent dinosaur exhibition has seen it become a real hit with children.
Following the end of normal business hours at around 7:30 p.m., guests and their children can venture into the dimly lit facility to look at reconstructed dinosaur skeletons that form part of a special light show.
The skeleton of an Allosaurus that stretches around 10 meters, the skull of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, and meteoric iron formed about 4.6 billion years ago are showcased at the museum along with other 3,000 fossil displays.
The museum, which centers on cosmic evolution and the history of life, takes up the first and second floors of the 6-story facility, while the hotel is on the upper floors.
Keito Fukuda, an 8-year-old elementary school pupil from Amagasaki, Hyogo Prefecture, said, "It was fun seeing creatures from ancient time. The Tyrannosaurus was cool."
The town of Okuizumo was once a post station used by travelers to rest in the Edo Period (1603-1868). The museum/hotel complex opened in 1987 in a bid to revive the town but business was initially slow.
Curator Kazuyoshi Udagawa recalls having a conversation with a hotel guest in 2010 who did not even know there was a museum in the facility.
The following year, Udagawa installed more lights and a sound system and launched the night exhibition. And it had an immediate impact with the number of guests at the hotel rising to about 6,000 per year from around 2,000, according to the facility.
"Visitors can take their time to see the displays because they do not have to rush home afterward," he said. "I want visitors to feel the journey from the creation of the universe to that of mankind to sense the miracle of their own births."