There are many aquariums in Hokkaido which incorporate nature. Why not get refreshed by events such as sea mammal shows and parades, as well as the impressive exhibitions? Here are 5 recommended aquariums in Hokkaido.
1. Otaru Aquarium
In this aquarium located in Otaru, you can see more than 250 species of animals and fish up close. You'll be welcomed by marine turtles on the first floor of the main building. There are big water tanks such as the huge panoramic water tank based on migration paths as well as the Okhotsk Sea and Bering Sea tanks where you will be amazed by fish powerfully swimming around. You can watch the bottlenose dolphin show at the dolphin stadium on the second floor, the humorous seal and penguin shows, the powerful dives of northern sea lions, and the South American sea lion show at the sea mammal park. There is an amusement park and a restaurant within the aquarium, as well as the Otaru-shi Nishin Goten where many exhibitions about fishing Pacific herring can be seen, so please stop by. You can reach the aquarium from Otaru Port by ferry. There are many ways to enjoy this facility.
Rare spotted seals in the middle of a show
2. Noboribetsu Marine Park Nixe
This is a theme park centered around the aquarium. Nixe Castle is a building made to look like Egeskov Castle in Denmark, and is an aquarium exhibiting 20,000 creatures from 400 species. When you enter the Crystal Tower, a water tank of 8m in height where you can see the colorful fish from the southern sea welcomes you. The Aqua Tunnel where you can look up at fish will make you feel like you are in the ocean. When you are on the escalator, you can look at it from above. Other than that, there is the petting pool where you can touch sharks and horseshoe crabs; one of the largest jellyfish water tanks in Hokkaido, presented with lights, music and fragrance; and the land animal park where reptiles and amphibians are reared. The penguin parade which is conducted every day is also a popular event, not to mention the dolphin and sea lion shows! In the amusement park Nixe Land, you can enjoy the full view of the park and Funka Bay from the top of the Ferris wheel or a merry-go-round.
3. Chitose Salmon Aquarium
This is a place to get familiar with freshwater fish, built on the riverbed of Chitose River near New Chitose Airport. Chitose is where salmon breeding through artificial incubation and releasing young fish started in 1888, earlier before anywhere else in Japan. In autumn when salmon swim against the stream to laying eggs, you can sometimes watch their spawning behavior in the Chitose River Underwater Observation Room on the first basement floor. There are exhibitions worth seeing, such as the Lake Shikotsu Big Water Tank made to look like Lake Shikotsu, which is the source of the Chitose River. There's also the Chitose River Road, where they introduce fish based on where they live in the source, midstream, and downstream, as well as the Indian Waterwheel, a device used to trap river fish. The Indian Waterwheel is shown in use by catching salmon so visitors can see how it works.
Neighboring Indian Waterwheel in the Chitose River
4. Muroran Public Aquarium
This is the oldest aquarium in Hokkaido, opened in 1953. It was created as a place of recreation and relaxation for citizens, on a site that formerly housed a whale filleting factory. They rear and exhibit approximately 120 species of creatures which live in Hokkaido or Honshu. The symbol of the aquarium is a fish called skilfish, which lives in the depths of the sea along the Hokkaido shores, and this aquarium is the only place in Japan that's succeeded in rearing it. You can also watch shows featuring seals, Stellar's sea lions, and a huge parade of Humboldt penguins. The sight of the penguins waddling across the bridge made to look like a miniature swan has become a must-see! There is playground equipment available as well, and it becomes crowded with families every weekend. This aquarium is only open from the end of April to the beginning of October.
5. Noshappu Aquarium
The aquarium in the northernmost tip of Japan is located in Cape Noshappu, where you can enjoy the views of the beautiful mountain Rishiri Fuji, Rebun Island, and Sakhalin. It was the hundredth aquarium to open in Japan. They rear and exhibit approximately 1,500 creatures of 100 species, with a focus on northern creatures such as robust fish or seals. The 90-ton water tank with a 360 degree view featuring migration paths around the world is a highlight. The feeding time starting from 13:10 every Sunday is also a must-see. Enjoy the powerful sight of a variety of fish, such as the very rare fish Sakhalin taimen, eating their food! You can also enjoy the elegant sight of crabs, shrimp, and herring in other tanks. They also hold a seal-feeding experience as well as a seal show.
Many aquariums in Hokkaido have an amusement park inside it, and are basically theme parks where you can enjoy a day with your family. It is only in Hokkaido where you can watch certain rare sea mammals perform in shows and swim dynamically. Enjoy it along with the grand view. Some aquariums change their hours or close down completely according to the seasons, so please check their business hours beforehand.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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