Until today, the deepest of seas has still yet to be explored by marine divers. The deep seas remain mysterious to regular human beings. Its beauty cannot be fully witnessed by everyone as not all people are brave and skilled enough to dive deep into the ocean. Thankfully, there are various facilities all over the world that try their best to mimic the deep blue sea and its marine life for regular people to experience. In Japan, there are various water theme parks and huge aquariums that features various concepts for adults and children to enjoy and learn from. Among these facilities is the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan.
The Concept and Theme of Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan
Considered as among the most spectacular aquariums in the country, Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan is famous for its innovative presentation of the ocean and marine life. In order to properly showcase the beauty, vibrancy, and dynamics of the natural environment of the ocean, the facility recreated the natural environment of the habitats of the aquatic animals that live in the Pacific Rim.
Featuring more than 15 huge tanks, the facility had made it a point to design every tank with the idea of recreating a certain region of the Pacific Region. With this theme, the Kaiyukan is able to take guests on a virtual tour of the Pacific Ocean. One of these tanks is called the “Japan Forest.” This tank reproduces the look of a Japanese forest, as the name suggests, that is beautifully lit by the sun.
Another popular tank in the facility is called “Antarctica.” Based on its name, it is obviously snow-themed with icy elements. The centerpiece of the aquarium is known as the “Pacific Ocean.” The highlight of the facility, this tank is 9 meters deep and 34 meters long. It contains 5,400 tons of water. It also serves as the home of numerous whale sharks, which is the biggest fish species in the world, featured by the facility.
Touring around the Pacific may take about two and a half hours for visitors to fully enjoy its features. It begins at the end of the land of terrestrial animals by taking the spiral ramp from the 8th floor to the 4th floor. As visitors enter the Pacific, it would feel like stepping into the ocean floor.
Visitors are offered different perspectives of the tank. They can also watch big schools of fish swimming around. If one is lucky, one would be able to watch marine animals do some tricks, as they were trained, during feeding time. It is quite interesting to watch how they learn and execute these tricks.
One of the goals of Kaiyukan is to stimulate the senses of its visitors. With its interactive exhibition area, the facility aims to provide sensory experiences of the natural environment of the sea. This is why Kaiyukan also lets guests touch sharks. Consisting of 30,000 creatures that encompass 620 species, Kaiyukan is a must-visit for anyone who is interested in learning and experiencing the wonders of the ocean. Some of these species include otters, penguins, whale sharks, jellyfish, sea lions, dolphins, and rays.
The Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan was established following the principal theme that was based on Dr. James Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis. An ecological theory, the said hypothesis states that the Earth is formed and functions as a single organism thanks to its various active volcanoes and all other living human beings, plants, and animals interacting with one another. Because of this idea, the concept of the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan is born.
The concepts of the “Ring of Fire” and the “Ring of Life” is also incorporated into all the exhibits featured in the Kaiyukan. This is because of its consideration of the geographical overlap in the Pacific Ocean region. This overlap is between the volcanic belt of the Pacific Rim with its recurrent volcanic eruptions and the area that is categorized by rich biodiversity.
The tour of the Kaiyukan begins at the “Aqua Gate” zone. Visitors are going through a tank that is shaped like a tunnel where they can feel as if being underwater, swimming among various species of fish. This tour would them lead to multiple zones like the “Japan Forest” and the “Pacific Ocean.” Traversing the whole length of the route of the tour provides visitors the experience of both ground and marine environments as recreated based on the Pacific Rim region.
Fish is not the only species that is exhibited by the Kaiyukan. Visitors may also expect to see a wide range of marine life in the aquarium. This includes amphibians, birds, reptiles, and mammals. Marine invertebrates, as well, as plants, can also be seen inside the aquarium. There are all sorts of creatures, as well as natural environments, found around the Pacific Rim region that were recreated by the Kaiyukan to provide the optimum underwater world experience.
Efforts are continually being made by the Kaiyukan to entice guests into visiting the aquarium. In Kaiyukan, visitors are able to find just how attractive and wonderful marine creatures truly are. The Kaiyukan also shows not just how precious marine life is but also the importance of conserving the environment where sea creatures live. The goal is to reach as many visitors as possible and make them see the beauty of the underwater world. The aquarium is also focused on activities that dabble in research and environmental protection.
Basic Information: Opening Hours, Passes, Prices, and Where to Buy Tickets
Visitors of different nationalities are welcome in Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan. The facility offers leaflets that describe the aquarium in detail for guests to have an overview of what the aquarium is all about. These leaflets are available not just in the Japanese language but also in English, Korean, simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese, and Thai. For people who wish to know more about the aquarium prior to heading there, there are staff members who can also speak English via phone. There is also the Kaiyukan Information Center that guides guests in the aquarium.
The aquarium is open from 10 in the morning until 8 in the evening. However, the last admission into the aquarium is an hour prior to closing time. The opening hours of the aquarium also differs depending on the season. Admission fee also varies depending on the age of the individual. The age of the visitor is based on his or her age on the day of the visit and not on the day of ticket purchase.
Admission fee for visitors over the age of 16 is 2,300 yen per head. Admission fee for senior citizens aged 60 and above is 2,000 yen. It is important to note that for these senior citizens to avail the discount, they must show an official identification card (ID) that states their date of birth at the Ticket Counter. This includes a passport or a driver’s license. Admission fee for children aged 7 to 15 is 1,200 yen while aged 4 to 6 is 600 yen. Children under the age of 4 can enter the aquarium free of charge.
Visitors may use their MasterCard, UC, JCB, VISA, or UnionPay cards to purchase their admission fees. However, other currencies or traveler’s checks aside from Japanese yen will not be accepted. For foreign visitors, it is also important to note that there are no foreign exchange office or automatic telling machines available at the facility.
There are also different rates for groups at a discounted price. This only applies to either a group of 15 or more foreign visitors or a group of 20 or more Japanese visitors. If the group is composed of high school students and/or people aged 16 and above, the admission fee would only be 2,000 yen per head. If the group is composed of elementary and/or junior high school students aged 7 to 15, the admission fee would only be 1,000 yen per head. If the group is composed of children aged 4 to 6, the admission fee would only be 500 yen per head. The discount also only applies when all members of the group enter the facility at the same time.
Another discount rate applies to student groups in school field trips. The number of members per group is the same mentioned above. For a group of high school students, the admission fee is now only 1,600 yen per head. For a group of elementary and junior high school students, the admission fee is now only 720 yen per head. For a group of preschoolers, the admission fee is now only 320 yen per head. Admission for teachers, doctors, and nurses going with the student groups are free of charge.
A Review of the Different Exhibits of Kaiyukan
There are various exhibits in Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan. The New Kaiyukan is its newest exhibits area where visitors can have close interactions with several marine animals. Interactions allowed in the area include personally observing, smelling, hearing, and touching the marine animals. There are three zones in the New Kaiyukan, namely, the Arctic, the Falkland Islands, and the Maldives. The New Kaiyukan was just opened in the year 2013. Because of this establishment, Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan turned into a facility that features a “feel the Earth” experience to guests coming from the different parts of the world.
The biggest dome-shaped ceiling tank in the world is located in the Arctic Zone of Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan. The area is situated on the 3rd floor. Its design was based on the actual environment of the undersea world of the Arctic. Visitors are able to pass through the zone. Looking up at a bridge, guests can see ice floes and may even catch a ringed seal looking down below from overhead.
Aside from the charming ringed seals that look like they are smiling, there are also other exhibits showcased in this zone. These include creatures that remain unfrozen even in sub-zero temperature surroundings. Naked sea butterflies, also known as cliones, as well as other small creatures, represent the Arctic region and can be found in this area.
Just a floor above is the home of these ringed seals. Designed with real ice and snow, the natural living habitat of these ringed seals is recreated on this floor. Aside from the extreme cold of the Arctic that can be experienced by visitors in this area, visitors are also able to get a closer look at the ringed seals. Guests hear them roar, smell their scent, and watch them swim among the ice with the use of their flippers.
In the Falkland Island zone lies the recreated living environment of penguins. Rockhopper penguins can be found in this zone, with their loud squawks being heard from far away. Their scent is also quite distinct, which can be smelled by visitors in the area. The penguins roam around an open-air type exhibit tank. Because of this, they can be watched swimming fast in the water as well as hopping around rocks, which is where they obtained their name. This environment was recreated based on the habitat in the sub-Antarctic region.
Last but certainly not the least is the Maldives zone. It features a “touch pool,” which allows visitors to touch rays and sharks that are swimming up close. The skin of the rays gives a slimy feel while the skin of the sharks has a rough texture. Aside from this, the zone also exhibits vibrant coral reefs.
Other Things to Check Out Near Kaiyukan
There are also various places to check out near Kaiyukan after one is already done with the aquarium. For some shopping, head on over to Tempozan Marketplace. Aside from regular stores, the commercial complex also features an indoor petting zoo known as Tempozan Anipa and an indoor LEGO playground known as LEGOLAND Discovery Center Osaka.
Other places to check out near the area are Naniwa Kuishinbo Yokocho, which is a food theme park for people who want to try various Osaka eateries, and Tempozan Giant Ferris Wheel. Standing at 112.5 meters high, this Ferris wheel is among the biggest Ferris wheels in the world. Riding this Ferris wheel while watching the sun set beautiful would be a great, romantic experience.