CESS ~ The centre for Environmental Science in Saitama, or the much more manageable “CESS” for short, is a unique museum in Kazo City, Saitama. It was designed to create awareness and educate about the environment. Particularly, it focuses on the impact of our lifestyles on the ecology and ideas how to circumvent that.
The building itself is quite well renowned within Saitama for its architecture. It is an environmentally sound structure made from cement and glass. Much of the materials that were used to build it were up or recycled and an energy saving design was implemented. They use, where possible, natural energy sources.
CESS is made up of several buildings, all of which were purposely designed to be low rising with natural features to fit in with the rural landscape. Within the main building there is the exhibition area, a library, meeting rooms, workshop space, rest areas, facilities and a laboratory.
The exhibition area is on the right hand side of the building. This area is charged for adults, but there is no cover charge for children. There are several interactive and educational displays and a theater in the main exhibition hall.
Exhibitions at CESS
- Gaia Vision
- Eco Drive Challenge (outlined below)
- Planet Rescue Adventure
- Red Data Photo Gallery
- Seasonal Food
- Recycle shop
- Co2 Diet
- Athletic Gym
- Rubbish Tower
- Where does water go?
- Sound Cafe
- Media workshop
- Global warming
- Saitama specific information kiosks
- Tangible earth (outlined below)
Eco Drive Challenge
An interactive exhibit that teaches how to reduce car omissions. The aim is to NOT inflate the balloon behind the car, which fills little by little as you drive the car. The more ecologically aware you drive, the less omissions enter the balloon. The faster you drive and / or idle stop, the more the balloon fills.
Tangible Earth at CESS
One of the coolest exhibits at the Center for Environmental Science in Saitama is the interactive globe exhibit “Tangible Earth”. According to the Saitama Prefecture Tourism website it is the only one of its type in Saitama. The Tangible Earth exhibit is the only exhibit upstairs in the exhibition area. It is beside the library in the free area of CESS.
From the exhibition area you have to go up two stairs and down two corridors to get to it. It is the only exhibit overseen by a curator. S/he will help you use the interactive globe, which can be moved by hand to pinpoint highlighted areas. The areas with a pinpoint have a live cam of an area within the city or town.
There is a small park at the front of the museum that is free to use. It has a few things to play with, but last year they removed the popular rope-pull bridges. There are lots of insects in this area, particularly grasshoppers and praying mantis.
Out the back of the museum, so in the section you pay into, there is an eco garden. They have seasonal events in this area. For example, in the Autumn children can rake leaves and play in a box full of leaves. In summer, unfortunately it is home to thousands of mosquitoes and it is not advised to go into it unless you are wearing long sleeves and trousers.
- Reading room
- Viewing deck
- Workshop space
- Lecture hall
- Meeting rooms
- Rest areas
- Baby changing areas (bring dirty diapers home with you)
- Rubbish bins
- Water fountains
- Vending machines
- Smoking area
We have only been to CESS a handful of times over the last 10 years. In my opinion, it is not the type of place you can visit frequently as there is not enough in it to engage frequent visits. However, they do host events many of which are held in the free area or outdoors and don’t even require you go near the exhibition hall.
My kids enjoyed it most between the ages of five and eight years old. At that age they can read and follow the instructions of the interactive displays and understand more about the purpose of the facility. They all loved the “tangible earth” from as young as two. But unless we are attending a craft workshop or event there a couple of hours is enough for them at this location.
I learned a lot from the displays on our initial visit and enjoyed viewing locations on the globe on each visit, but for me its the type of place I use as a filler on the way to or from another location. Such as returning from Kodai No Hasu for the rice paddy art in nearby Gyoda or on the way back from the excellent Hanasaki Park.
|Hours:||9:30 to 16:30 Tuesday to Sunday, closed Mondays|
|Cost:||300 yen for adults, children free|
|Address:||914 Kamitanadare, Kazo, Saitama 347-0115|
|Web:||Official English web page|
The nearest stations are Kazo on the Tobu Isesaki line and Konosu on the JR Takasaki line. You can get a bus bound from both stations. It takes about 15 minutes. From Kazo station you get a bus bound for Konosu station and from Konosu station you get a bus bound for Kazo station. Alight at Kisai Fukushi center on both.
By car there are three highway exits relatively nearby. The exits are Kazo Interchange on the Tohoku expressway, Shiraoka Shobu on the Tohoku to Ken-o interchange and Okegawa Kano on the Ken-o expressway. Parking at CESS is free.