Last month I wrote about Kansai's Big Bang museum, but that's not the only place in the region that uses science to entertain. Smack in the middle of downtown Osaka you'll find two other great places for educational fun: the Osaka Science Museum and Kids Plaza Osaka.

Located next to the National Museum of Art, the Osaka Science Museum will be our first stop of the day. If you go on a weekend or national holiday, make sure to check the schedule near the ticket counter to see if there will be any live science experiments to see. Like many museums in Japan, everything will be in Japanese only, but the most interesting exhibits and demonstrations will be entertaining on their own, and even more rewarding if you can explain a bit to your kids yourself. (I often use my iPhone to look up the ideas we see as we walk, so that I can elaborate further when needed.)

Each floor of the museum shows scientific principles in action. For example, kids can place their hands on the massive cords of metal wire used in industrial power cables, and then operate hand cranks and treadmills to see if they can generate power on their own. The third floor covers chemistry and its real-world uses, such as medicine, perfume and plastics. Give your kids enough time to play with each exhibit — even if you have to wait in a short line. If you visit on a weekend, you may have to.