6 Recommended Aquariums in Japan that are Definitely Worth Seeing
In Japan, you can find many family-friendly aquariums that are also a lot of fun to visit even if you do not have kids. Some of them feature reproductions of the Japanese seas as well as very special exhibitions that will definitely turn your trip into something different.
1. Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium (Okinawa)
This aquarium is located in the northern part of the main island of Okinawa, and it features the world's largest water tank called the "Kuroshio Sea". Over 16,000 organisms swim gracefully in this water, including whale sharks and reef manta rays, and watching them you may even forget time. In addition, visitors can enjoy a variety of other programs including the powerful sight of the whale sharks getting fed every day at 3:00 pm and 5:00 pm, and various shows at the Churaumi Theater. We recommend the "Exploring the Kuroshio Sea Tank" program, in which you can go to the observation deck above the tank and look down at the fish directly and not through a glass, and see the caretakers as they go about their job. In addition, the aquarium provides audio guides for free in Japanese, English, Chinese, and Korean, so you can listen to the explanations as you visit each water tank. You will need to send a request a week in advance through their official website, but it is definitely worth it.
2. Kamogawa Seaworld (Chiba)
This is an aquarium located in Kamogawa-shi, Chiba. The aquarium focuses its theme on the "interactive discovery of the underwater world and marine life," and it can be enjoyed in many different ways. Besides the water tank area, the aquarium has 4 performance areas, and the show in which the caretakers get into the water with the orcas which jump with the Pacific Ocean as a backdrop is definitely a must see. In addition, pelicans parade twice a day through the park and their caretakers offer explanations about them - you will definitely find them irresistibly cute! Visitors can watch the animals and fish eat during their feeding time, and the aquarium features other programs as well, such as guided discovery tours and activities (charges apply) in which visitors can interact with the animals. This aquarium offers you the opportunity to spend time interacting both physically and emotionally with the kinds of sea animals that you would never see otherwise in your daily life.
3. Toba Aquarium (Mie)
Toba Aquarium claims to be the aquarium with the largest variety of species in Japan. In the "Hen na Ikimono Kenkyusho" (Curious Creatures Laboratory), you will find surprising animals that you may have never seen before, such as the Guenther's Amoy frog, which has a very distinctive bark, or the giant isopod, which became famous for fasting for over 5 years. The penguin parade lasts for only 10 minutes, but the way in which the penguins look at the visitors now and again as they pass by makes them very popular among both adults and children. In addition, in the walrus show, you can see the walrus begging and brushing its teeth, a really funny sight. Definitely make sure to watch the sea otter eat to find out how they manage with their short hands - they get fed 3 times a day! And enjoy a moving experience in the Coral Reef Diving area, the first all-glass gallery of the world that surrounds you and make you feel like you're diving. We definitely recommend visiting the Toba Aquarium, as it offers plenty of entertainment for a whole day out.
*The picture shows a giant isopod.
4. Yokohama Hakkeijima Sea Paradise (Kanagawa)
The Hakkeijima Sea Paradise aquarium is built on an artificial island in Yokohama. It is divided in 4 different aquariums so that visitors can enjoy all aspects of the sea, including eating fish caught by themselves (charges apply), watching fish in their natural habitat, and a sea farm where they can play, learn, and eat. The Aqua Museum, where visitors can see the sardine run that involves a school of 50,000 sardines swimming together is the gem of the exhibition. This can also be seen from the "Aqua Tube", the electric stairs at the center of the water tank. The Aqua Museum also holds the popular "Sea Animals Show WA!!". There are many other activities worth taking part in such as the Interactive Lagoon, where you can interact with the sea animals, and Dolphin Fantasy, a whimsical dolphin-themed aquarium. This aquarium offers plenty of entertainment for a whole day, including not only viewing the exhibitions and participating in activities, but also learning about the natural environment.
5. Oga Aquarium GAO (Akita)
This is a aquarium on the coast of the gorgeous Oga peninsula in the Tohoku region. When you enter the aquarium, you will likely be overwhelmed by the breathtaking beauty of the Oga no Umi Large Water Tank. The Oga Aquarium GAO features many exhibits regarding the nature of Akita, and the Hatahata Museum is one of these. Hatahata (Japanese sandfish) is a type of fish very commonly used in local Akita cuisine, and here you can learn more about it and its ecological environment. There is an exhibition regarding shottsuru, a fish sauce made with hatahata, and you can eat a Inaniwa udon dish using this sauce at the restaurant. The restaurant offers an amazing panoramic view of the sea surrounding Oga, so we definitely recommend visiting it. Do not forget to check the feeding time for the popular Gota the polar bear either! You will not get tired of watching Gota move around in a lively way, looking for food in the shade of the rocks and playing with his toys!
6. Sumida Aquarium (Tokyo)
This is an aquarium located in Tokyo's newest touristic spot, Tokyo Skytree. We especially recommend the jellyfish zone. The sight of countless jellyfish of all sizes as they sway about in the water tanks is very popular for being not only extraordinary, but also soothing. Looking through the round window of the Tokyo Large Water Tank at the recreation of the Ogasawara Islands, a World Heritage Site, will definitely make you feel as if you were in the depths of the sea in a place 1,000 km away. At the indoor open pool-like water tank, you can see the penguins and fur seals from close up. The Sumida Aquarium is not especially large, but it is probably considered by many to be a fashionable aquarium in the metropolis, as its exhibitions are ingeniously designed, and it also holds music events every season. The aquarium is very close to the Skytree Station, which makes it very easy to access especially if you are already going sightseeing at Skytree.
All these aquariums are very ingeniously designed and definitely worth seeing. Besides their exhibits, they also offer a variety of programs, so make sure to participate in them!
*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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