An Osaka Aquarium (Kaiyukan) Afternoon

11:30


After a morning spent at the Osaka Mint Bureau cherry blossom lane, I made my way to another touristy spot in Osaka.

As the title suggests, I went to the Osaka Aquarium.

I love aquariums, I truly do, especially well-kept ones that look after their captive animals well. There is something therapeutic about seeing fishes, particularly big ones, move around in their environment.

I left Tenmabashi Station, and made my way towards Osakako Station on the Chuo Subway line. This is why you definitely need an Internet connection in Japan to not waste time - I had to change trains for this, and Google Maps helpfully guided me where and when to go.

Unfortunately Google Maps could not help me locate the Osaka Aquarium once I arrived at Osakako Station. Oh, there was a bunch of directions from the station towards the aquarium. I followed the signs, and ended up at the bottom of a staircase exiting from the station.

Then... what? 

I could not see a sign for further directions towards the aquarium. I could not see the aquarium either. Google Maps was now saying that it could not locate me.

SIGH.

So I did what every solo tourist in my situation would do. I followed the crowd of people who were clearly tourists.

Unfortunately... the crowd (of four other people) was wrong. We walked a huge circle looping AWAY from the aquarium and then back again. We asked a a few directions along the way, some of us banded together to find the aquarium. Luckily, it loomed ahead of us after a bout of walking. I recognised the distinctive building, as I had Googled how it looked like before.



I ended up walking towards this building on its left side, when I could have just saved myself the time and distance by walking towards its front side.

***

PRO-TIP FOR MY READERS

Once you have arrived at Osakako Station, follow the signs that have pictures of aquatic animals plastered over them. You will cross a bridge path and end up exiting through a staircase.

DO NOT, I REPEAT, DO NOT DO AN ABOUT-TURN AND CROSS THE CROSSROAD BEHIND THE STAIRCASE.

The staircase will be located on the left of the street. Please cross the street towards your right. Once there, keep going down the street where the exit is facing (do not cross any more streets). The Osaka Aquarium will be to your right.

***

Anyway, all is well, I got there and lined up for the ticket. You can get discounts if you come in a group of 15 (for foreigners), but alas, it was just me, and the price was ¥2,300 (RM70).

*grasps at wallet tightly as it grows slimmer over my trip in Japan*

I mean, I suppose the price can be considered reasonable for an aquarium of its size - eight well-organised floors of aquatic life must need a lot of money to keep running in a place as expensive as Japan.

Digression: It's cheaper that the S.E.A. Aquarium in Singapore, which costs around RM103 to enter (what!?). Aquaria in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia costs RM53 for foreigners, and it's probably around the size of two floors. I went to Aquaria once at a discounted price of RM28, and sorry to say, I did not even find that worth it. I would go to Aquaria more if tickets were sold at RM10 or even RM15,  but I suppose it is not my money they are after.

As I paid, I briefly remember the amazing Taipei Zoo, which is open to the public for RM7 per adult ticket, with large swathes of areas to keep guests entertained.  Good job, Taipei Zoo, for making your establishment accessible to people from all walks of life.

The way the Osaka Aquarium works is that one must start one's journey from the topmost floor, and walk down in a circular motion towards the bottom. On the way I passed by a tunnel filled with sharks, and shrieks of 'kawaii!' can be heard from excitable teenage girls.

Yeah, sharks are pretty much kawaii... when they are behind a tank.

The topmost floor is a small area, with not so much tanks but an open layout made to look like a forest. There are animals like the following just chilling in their respective spots, ignoring the sightseers and lazing away.


I believe these are otters.

After this floor, most of the animals seen will be enclosed in tanks. The aquarium hosts an impressive amount of marine animals from around the world. They are mostly animals that can be found in the Ring of Fire area in the Pacific Ocean.

All in all, visitors can expect to while away two to three hours in the aquarium as they make a slow descent down the aquarium. It is impressive how much is inside that building above. Visitors will be making circular loops in a downward slope, and before you know it you will be arriving at the bottom floor.


 It did not feel like I was walking down eight floors while I was in it. While walking, I passed by tanks after tanks hosting different animals. This one hosted a capybara, and as I stood there watching it, I could hear Japanese mothers telling their kids about "capybara-san". The "-san" suffix made me giggle a little inside.

I wish there had been more than one capybara, though. It must get lonely in there without another of your species with you.

However, some of the tanks seemed more than a little overcrowded, such as this.


"Oh hello penguin-san. How are you today?"

There were quite a bit of poop on the tank glass, hence the spots you can in the picture. These penguins did not seem inclined to move, just standing there with their wings held slightly up and an "Oh my God, what are all these idiot humans doing staring at me?" look on their faces.

Not that there was much space for them to move on land, even if they wanted to.



Talk about overcrowding. These king penguins were just all casually standing on their spot, too, barely moving. Sometimes one or two will go for a swim in the waters below, before resuming a standoffish stance on land again.

The tanks are not all different on each floor. Some of them are the same tank with the same animals, but with different eye-view points for visitors. So one may be able to see dolphins pop up from time to time on the surface of the water, but see them swimming and racing through water when one is on a lower floor.


Oh hello. I am a terrible learner, so I can only tell you that this is a fish, yes, a fish. I had pretty much forgotten all the names of the animals I saw when I walked out the exit, never mind tell you what they are apart from their general names.

My favourite tank for first sight impressions was the Great Barrier Reef tank - it was just so colourful with the tiny bright and multi-coloured fishes swimming away. It was pleasurable to watch the fishes darting from place to place.

 However, the highlight of the aquarium is definitely the tank of The Pacific Ocean. It is set in the middle of the Osaka Aquarium, and is the biggest tank there is in the aquarium, spanning several floors as visitors make their way around it.

It has to be big, because it hosts manta rays, bluefin tunas, other large fishes, and most notably, this.



HELLO, GORGEOUS. Everyone please say hi to the whale shark!

I mean, when I thought of the word 'whale shark', all I can think of is a Great White Shark that is the size of a whale like the one in Pinocchio that swallowed Geppetto.

Seriously, no thank you.

Mother Nature appears to be in a good mood for this creature, though, because the whale shark is simply... therapeutic to look at, as it swims around the tank.

I mean, I assume I would be screaming and swimming away in fear if I ever come across one in the ocean. They are, however, gentle giants, and subsist on a liquid diet that usually contains plankton and small fishes for them to get nourishment.

Also they have no teeth.

Thank you, Mother Nature. Thank you.

Technically there are places around the world where you can swim with whale sharks, if it so behooves you to do so. I am quite content to look at them from afar, however... and for long periods of time without moving, just focusing on the movement of fishes.

The Osaka Aquarium administration seems to know this, and have provided benches and other seating arrangements located on different floors directly facing the Pacific Ocean tank. As whale sharks have to keep moving in order to breathe, from time to time you will see it appear as it makes its way across the tank and back again.

After idly watching this tank for close to fifteen minutes as I fiddled with charging my phone, I felt a sensation close to restful serenity. It would have been totally serene to watch the tank and fishes without hearing crying kids from time to time, but I suppose you cannot have everything,

I made my way towards the exit, and passed by a diver feeding the manta rays in a show for the kids. I watched for a while, seeing manta rays block the diver from view as they gulp on fish bits, and wonder what it must be like to be a diver. I love the ocean, and I love looking at the ocean, but I cannot say I like being IN the ocean.

I have clearly never been a mermaid in my past lives.

That's not all for the aquarium folks, because there are still more animals to see even after you leave the giant tank. There are animals like jellyfish varieties and seals and this.


You are lucky you are in the aquarium and not in a seafood restaurant in Hokkaido.

There was an area on tropical animals as well, complete with a sloth that refused to look at any of us. As typical of aquariums, there was also an interactive pool for kids to play in, but I was more interested in this.


That side-eye skill is amazing. I think this is a rockhopper penguin, which explains what it is standing on.

After about three hours of gawping at animals, I finally found myself on the outside of the aquarium again. I passed by the aquarium shop and was PRETTY tempted to buy a cute seal plush, but then I reminded myself that "I HAVE A BUDGET AND I WOULD LIKE TO EAT DINNER" so I hurried myself out of the aquarium.

Also, if you are up for it, you can take the Santa Maria Cruise which docks right next to the Osaka aquarium. It will take you on a cruise around the Osaka Bay Area, where you can enjoy the scenery from the cruise. Day cruises will cost  ¥1,600 and night cruises will cost ¥1,900.

In my opinion, the Osaka Aquarium is certainly one of the best aquariums I have been to, but please keep in mind that I have not visited many to begin with.

Will I come back to the aquarium again? Probably, but only with friends who want to go or those who have not seen it before. I imagine if I lived in Japan and earned Japanese wages, that would make the fee more palatable. A ¥2,300 admission fee will be most likely seem okay against a general entry-level  ¥250,000 wage, rather than RM70 against a general entry-level wage of RM2,000.

However I am not earning Japanese wages, so yeah. It is not that great enough to warrant a return, unlike the Disney theme parks because I am a massive slave to the Disney corporation. It is definitely a good place to go to if you have kids, though, to keep the kids interested.

Up next will be about... Universal Studios Japan! I have mixed feelings about Universal Studios Japan this time around. On the one hand, I went because I wanted to go to Harry Potter World (and I loved it), on the other, the rest of Universal Studios Japan was...

Well. You'll see.

Until then, then.

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