If you are thinking of going to an aquarium in Kansai, make sure you visit one of these! Some rare creatures can only be seen in these aquariums. Here are 7 aquariums that should be on your to-do list when sightseeing in Kansai.
Kaiyukan in Tempozan is one of the world's largest aquariums. It is the only place in all the aquariums in the world where you can see a spinetail mobula! Past their Aqua Gate, there exists another world inhabited by 30,000 creatures of 620 species, including a whale shark that is said to be 12m long. You can see a wide variety of marine life from the polar regions to the tropics, in 14 water tanks for exhibition including the huge Pacific Ocean water tank made to resemble the Pacific Ocean. You can start from the sea otters of the Aleutian Islands and continue through the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and to the Antarctic Continent. You can have a trip around the Pacific Ocean from the rain forests in Ecuador to the west coast of the United States, all through viewing the creatures of the sea.
This is one of the major sightseeing spots in Ise Shima and has had more than sixty million visitors. Animals from 1,200 species are kept in the aquarium where you can see around without worrying about the route. It is the only place in the world where you can see a dugong and an African manatee at the same time! They have succeeded in breeding a black finless porpoise for the first time in the world, have valuable experience in breeding chambered nautilus, and show Californian sea lions and Commerson's dolphins raising their babies as well. In 2016, there are many seasonal events including the Totolympics, exhibitions showing the unique skills of the animals in accordance with Rio Olympics, as well as the first Halloween event from September to October.
2. Toba Aquarium
This facility, opened in 2012 within Umekoji Park close to Kyoto Station, represents the environmental model city of Kyoto and approaches the promotion of solar power generation and the protection of the natural environment. They have exhibitions that are unique to the Kyoto Basin which doesn't have an ocean, and it is a new aquarium where you can learn while playing. They have 6 different types of anemone fish that are seen in the sea near Japan! At the Dolphin Stadium, you can enjoy a participatory dolphin show. You can have your photo taken with a giant tortoise as well. At the Penguin Sky Walk, you can look up at penguins walking from directly below them. There are many tricks everywhere to get visitors feel closer to animals. Since it is easy to access too, try to incorporate it into your Kyoto sightseeing itinerary.
3. Kyoto Aquarium
This is a theme park in Nanki Shirahama, where an aquarium, a zoo, and an amusement park are put together. It is known for the twin pandas living here. Other popular attractions are the Center Dome and Sea Animals Museum where antarctic animals like polar bears live, the Marine Wave where you can feed dolphins or take photos with them, and the Big Ocean area where you can see dynamic whale and sea lion shows. The parade of penguins is also famous, and you can take photos with them for a great memento of a fun trip.
4. Adventure World
Kobe is where the history of aquariums in Japan has started, and it is said that the former aquarium of Suma Aqualife Park was Japan's first aquarium. You can see a bowmouth guitarfish (its head resembles a stingray and its body a shark), the rare fish of a monotypic genus! In the Fish Show Theater, you can watch the moment that a porcupine fish inflates its body and radiates the spines. There are many must-sees such as the bottlenose dolphin show, the big tank where sharks and stingrays swim around leisurely, and the Amazon Museum where you can see one of the world's largest freshwater fish, pirarucu.
This aquarium is located within the Sanin Kaigan National Park. There are many experience options, and the fishing for mackerel workshop lets you eat the fish you caught by making it into tempura right away! Some other popular experiences are the diving experience, the dolphin training experience where you can discover what a dolphin trainer does every day, and the dolphin swim where you can swim with dolphins. At Dive Adventure, you get on a floating boat and go into the magical ocean. Also you can actually touch creatures that live on the seashore, in the rocky area that they set to recreate the rise and fall of the tide. The show of dolphins, sea lions and penguins as well as seeing the Steller's sea lions dive are impressive too.
6. Kinosaki Marine World
Kii Peninsula is a place that is like a "window" where you can see sea creatures from the Pacific Ocean to the Indian Ocean. In this aquarium attached to a Kyoto University research facility, mainly Kii Peninsula's sea creatures are exhibited, but there are also big migratory fish and sharks. They especially keep many invertebrate animals such shrimps and starfish, so you can acquire rare experiences and knowledge. There is also a Southern Japanese mitten lobster on exhibition which is rarely seen in the main island of Japan. You can also see creatures that live at the bottom of the sea near Shirahama, caught by a type of survey where a dredge is towed along the bottom of the sea. It is sure to interest you in a way no other aquarium will.
7. Shirahama Aquarium, Kyoto University
There are other aquariums in Kansai as well, but these are enjoyable and educational as sightseeing spots as well. They are all fun and you will not get bored even if you stay there for a whole day. Why not spend a relaxed time with your family or friends?
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.