Kaiyukan Osaka Aquarium

Osaka offers many tourist attractions, and Kaiyukan Osaka Aquarium is one of the most popular spots to visit. It’s located on Osaka Bay, just across the water from Universal Studios Japan. Kaiyukan is one of the largest aquariums in the world, and boasts some quite impressive fish and animal exhibits!

When entering the aquarium, you must first to go the 8th floor, the top of the building, and work your way down. After getting to the top, I walked through a glass tunnel with fish swimming all around. Many people were taking pictures in here as it truly seems like you’re underwater! 

Once I left the tunnel, I was shocked to see the next exhibit was filled with greenery. This is the first hint at how truly unique Kaiyukan is. The exhibit is based around Japan’s forests. The stars of this area were the playful otters swimming and running around a beautiful tank. This area was absolutely stunning, and very well kept. I’ve never seen so many plants at an aquarium! 

On the next level, you can see the otters zipping around at the bottom of their tank. I was amazed at how fast they can swim! The tank was pretty large, and I could spot only about ten otters. It seems like they have a lot of space to play and swim. One downside of zoos and aquariums in Japan is that they are rather small, and therefore don’t have enough space for the animals or fish to live well. But it seems like it’s not a problem for this aquarium!

The next few floors feature some very interesting fish, and one exhibit feature fish from the Ecuador rainforests even had a Capybara! Not something that the average aquarium has! 

Another floor had a large tank for Adelie and King penguins, and I could’ve stayed here all day! Even though some of the ice and floors in the tank seemed a little dirty, the penguins were very clean. I was very happy to see their feathers were black and white! A few years ago, I visited the famous Ueno Zoo in Tokyo, and many penguins and other animals there had brown feathers or fur since they were so dirty. Kaiyukan does a much better job cleaning their animals!

The floor below the penguins features some beautiful Pacific white-sided dolphins. I’ve never seen dolphins like these before, as they were white and gray in color, compared to the more popular gray bottleneck dolphins usually seen at aquariums. There were around five to ten dolphins here in a very large tank. Although there is no dolphin show at this aquarium, the dolphins often jumped very high out of the water to touch a red ball suspended from the ceiling. The dolphins were full of energy, and often splashed at the glass walls, making many people flinch in shock!

These exhibits are all on three different floors, and in the middle of them is a massive tank that goes through the center of the building. Inside are many stingrays and different kinds of sharks. Of course, the most impressive fish to see is the largest fish in the world- the whale shark! And the aquarium has two! Only around ten aquariums in the world have whale sharks in captivity, and the majority of them are in Japan. Whale sharks can grow to be as long as 40 ft, but the whale sharks at Kaiyukan seemed to be shorter at around 25-30 ft. each. Still, as the largest known fish in the world, it was an incredible experience to be able to see them in person!

The next few floors featured many fish from around the world, in particular within the Ring of Fire, which is where all the fish and animals in the aquarium are from. There was an impressive jellyfish display, and a tank filled with massive Giant Spider crabs and other deep sea fish.

The last floor of the aquarium featured some new interactive exhibits. The first you see is an open tank with large chunks of ice and seals swimming and flopping around. This section was particularly cold, and there was even ice constantly falling out of the ceiling like a waterfall! There are more seals on a higher floor of the aquarium, too. You can see the bottom of the tank from the next floor down. This aquarium makes great use of its space so that visitors can see the exhibits from many different angles!

In the next room, you can touch many kinds of stingrays and sharks! I’ve never done this before, and it was very…interesting, to say the least! The texture of their skin (is it even skin?) was very tough and slimy. There are many signs warning not to touch the sharks’ mouths or the stingrays’ tails. Oddly enough, the majority of the signs were entirely in English!

In this room, there was also an open exhibit with some very loud penguins. One of the penguins had laid an egg a few days before, and was sitting on the egg when we got there. Nearby penguins were making an awfully loud noise, which was quite annoying!

The final section of the aquarium is an interactive exhibit all about shark facts, especially about shark hunting patterns. The area seemed pretty dull, so I quickly went through it to the exit.

Overall, Kaiyukan is worth the ¥2,300 ticket price. You can spend a good two hours inside, or perhaps more when it’s crowded. Many people I talked to said that the aquarium is extremely crowded, especially on weekends and holidays. However, I visited on a Sunday afternoon at the end of the extremely busy Golden Week holiday, and the crowds were very small. I suppose I lucked out! I definitely recommend going to Kaiyukan if you’re in the Osaka area!

Next to the aquarium is the Tempozan Marketplace, which is located next to a massive ferris wheel. A few minutes away is something very unique- Japan’s smallest mountain, Mt. Tenpo! At just 14.9 ft., you can easily climb to the summit of this mountain! Before the 1800s, it was much taller at about 65 ft., but was excavated to its smaller height to spot foreign ships coming to the nearby harbor. Unfortunately, it is not generally considered the world’s smallest mountain, which is actually taller than Mt. Tenpo. Still, we can firmly state that this is Japan’s smallest! This pictures shows the marking of the mountain’s summit.

So, in just one day you can go to an aquarium and climb a mountain! Only in Japan!


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