12 May 2015

Japan is famous for fish in all shapes, sizes, and dishes. The country consumes the second highest number of fish in the world, second to China. But the Japanese people don't just eat their fish, they like looking at them too. So, we have chosen four brill-iant aquariums where you can observe the delights of Japanese sea life, without the need for chopsticks:

Osaka Aquarium

Four Brilliant Aquariums in Japan

(image by upload.wikimedia.org)

Kaiyukan is an 8-floor aquarium with a large-scale indoor water tank. The entire building expresses itself as a Pacific Rim zone of life, and approximately 30,000 examples of sea life from 620 varieties can be seen. The regular route will first take you through the 3rd-floor tunnel-like “Fish Passage – Aqua Gate” and then on the escalator up to the 8th floor’s “Nihon no Mori” (Japan Forest). From here, you can view 14 aquaria as you descend a spiral slope. You can see the fish and expressions of the sea up close through the 10 regions of the Pacific Rim. Of particular note is the 9m-deep and 34m-long giant tank which holds 5,400 tonnes of water and resembles the Pacific Ocean. You can view migratory fish such as the popular whale shark (Yuu-chan), sharks, rays and horse mackerel swimming about calmly. The “Aleutian Islands” where you can see sea otters and the “Floating Jellyfish” tank where only jellyfish are placed are also popular. There are other various idea aquaria to interest visitors. If you visit after 5 p.m., we also recommend catching a glimpse of the fish in night mode.

You can’t miss the “New Interactive Area” which opened in 2013. You can see the animals up close and it’s possible to touch them. It’s also fun to experience the environment where the animals live including the smells and the cold. 3 zones are constructed in the “New Interactive Area”. In the Arctic Zone, you can see the sight of roundish ringed seals swimming from below through the world’s largest dome-shaped ceiling tank. You can also sense the cold of the Arctic Zone on your skin. In the Falkland Islands Zone, you can view rockhopper penguins in the open-air tank up close. Then, in the Maldives Zone, you can directly touch sharks and rays. The “New Interactive Area”, which overturns the image of existing aquaria, is extremely popular with both adults and children alike. You will want to strike a rapport with the animals.

Admission: Adult: ¥ 2,300 / Child: ¥ 1,200

Guidebook from Planetyze about Osaka Aquarium
Reviews from TripAdvisor about Osaka Aquarium
Tours of Osaka Aquarium

Kyoto Aquarium

Four Brilliant Aquariums in Japan

(image by flickr.com)

The aquarium is located 15 minutes away on foot from Kyoto Station’s central exit. Kyoto Aquarium is located in the popular urban oasis of Umekouji Park. Within the facility, you can start from the Main Pool where you view sea life from 7 spots including a cave and a fish-eye lens as one of the 9 exhibition zones. With a five-storied pagoda far off in the distance, you can also enjoy the dolphin show. You may be thinking “Why would I head for an aquarium in the 1000-year-old former capital of Kyoto?” However, you can deepen your knowledge about Kyoto from a different angle from history and culture.  

First on the menu are the two different water tanks with motifs of the Kamo and Yura Rivers. At this Rivers of Kyoto Zone, the nature of Kyoto is realistically recreated. Of note inside are the living fossils of Japanese giant salamanders which have been designated as the nation’s Special Natural Monuments. You can witness these animals which are native to the Kamo River flowing within Kyoto. There is also the Kyoto Woodland Zone which recreates the woodland area just outside of Kyoto. You can see the unspoiled landscape from the good old days of Japan with animals such as catfish, carp and frogs living in the terraced rice fields and irrigation canals.  

Admission: Adult: ¥ 2,050 / Child: ¥ 1,000

Guidebook from Planetyze about Kyoto Aquarium
Reviews from TripAdvisor about Kyoto Aquarium
Tours of Kyoto Aquarium

Yokohama Hakkeijima 

Four Brilliant Aquariums in Japan

(image by machi-photo.net)

About 1 hour from Tokyo. This island in Tokyo Bay was first opened in 1993 as “Hakkeijima Sea Paradise”. There are 4 aquariums. The Aqua Museum is the symbol of Hakkeijima. The outstanding pyramid-roof aquarium displays 100,000 examples of sea life from 500 species. In the largest tank at the Aqua Museum, the nation’s largest school of 50,000 sardines is used in Super Iwashi Illusion. It’s a popular show in which the sardines dynamically race around while lit up by the tank lighting. At the Aqua Stadium, which can hold up to 2000 people, dolphins, sea lions, penguins and other animals can be seen at once performing in an exciting show. The Dolphin Fantasy is a magical aquarium with the theme of dolphins. There is no roof on the water tank, and you can view them from inside the tunnel. They can be seen on sunny or rainy days in conditions close to the natural sea, and it feels like taking a stroll on the bottom of the ocean.

The Fureai Lagoon is an aquarium where you can touch the sea animals. There is a program in which you can get a taste of being a trainer through touching the backs of dolphins and feeding them and there is also a program where you can swim with dolphins and whales (separate charge).

The Umi Farm is an aquarium whose purpose is to have visitors closely feel the environment of the ocean through the raising, harvesting and eating of sea life. Get the fish that you can eat and have it prepared for you. In the amusement park, there are attractions such as Japan’s first roller coaster to go partially above the water and the seaboats where dolphins swim nearby. 

Admission: Adult: ¥ 5,050 / Child: ¥ 3,600

Guidebook from Planetyze about Hakkeijima 
Reviews from TripAdvisor about Hakkeijima 
Tours of Hakkeijima 

Sumida Aquarium

Four Brilliant Aquariums in Japan

Located on the 5th floor, it acquired one star (if you’re interested) in the 2013 Michelin Guide. With the theme of an ocean in Tokyo, the aquarium has been set up so that you can get real close to places such as an open rooftop pool-like tank where you can see penguins and fur seals, and the Tokyo Tank which has been re-created as the Ogasawara Sea. It takes 3 minutes on the Tokyo Sky Tree line from Asakusa without needing to transfer. Tokyo Solamachi will become the center of a new shitamachi. 

The first level of the aquarium is dedicated to living aquascapes, and although the aquarium is a bit on the small side, it features many interesting things to see, most notably the Jellyfish and Sharks. The highlight, however, is the aptly named Animals Enjoying Water section. The area is home to the aforementioned open rooftop pool-like tank, where you can see the Fur Seals and a large number of Penguins. Quite appropriately, the penguins can often be seen enjoying the water.

Admission: ¥ 2050 

Guidebook from Planetyze about Sumida Aquarium
Reviews from TripAdvisor about Sumida Aquarium
Tours of Sumida Aquarium

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