Spotlight: Kaiyukan Aquarium (Osaka)

Japan is celebrating Umi no Hi (Ocean Day) today, which may not mean much to the general population but at least results in a three-day weekend. 🙂 In keeping with the watery theme, I thought I would do a post on Osaka’s Kaiyukan, considered one of the top aquariums in the country.

The Kaiyukan sits on the water in western Osaka city, part of the Tempozan entertainment complex. From the outside, the building is visually impressive and decorated with murals of the sea creatures. From the ticket counter, you’ll head up to the top of the building and work your way down from there.

Exterior of Osaka's Kaiyukan
Exterior of Osaka’s Kaiyukan

The theme of Osaka’s Kaiyukan is the Ring of Fire, and features countries that are a part of this Pacific Ocean ecosystem. Visitors follow a sloping path down through the building that passes by each section and its unique inhabitants – sea otters from the Aleutian Islands, seals and sea lions from California’s Monterey Bay, eels from the Ecuadorian rain forest and penguins from Antarctica, to name a few.

Looking up at one of the aquarium's seals
Looking up at one of the aquarium’s seals

In the center of this circular walkway is a massive tank that holds the aquarium’s pride and joy – a whale shark – as well as species such as bluefin tuna and sting rays. At the end of the walkway, visitors will first enter an “arctic” section before finally ending in a touch pool zone.

The touch pool zone
The touch pool zone

So, how does this aquarium measure up to its reputation? Truthfully, having visited Okinawa’s Churaumi Aquarium, I wasn’t as impressed with Osaka’s Kaiyukan. The price was also significantly higher (Osaka’s entrance fee is ¥2300), a bit extreme considering we only spent about 60-90 minutes there. Still, the facility is well-run and my toddler had a grand time running back and forth trying to “chase” the seals and sea lions. If you don’t have the chance to visit make it to Okinawa, this is one sight in Osaka I would put on your short-list.

For more information on the Kaiyukan, click here.

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