Being an island nation the marine world is very closely connected with Japanese culture.
Cuisine, art, folklore, history, so much of Japan’s identity is dictated by its geographical position, so, it only makes perfect sense that it’s a country with its fair share of world-class aquariums.
From the beachside enclosures, the inner-city displays, here are some of the best aquariums in Japan.
Kamo Aquarium - Seal Lion
Kamo Aquarium - Jelly fish
Looking out on to the Sea of Japan just south of Sakata City is where you’ll find Kamo Aquarium, Yamagata Prefecture’s only aquarium and one of Japan’s best.
What makes the Kamo Aquarium particularly unique is its hypnotic jellyfish collection. There are over 50 different species of jellyfish on display, housed in the "Jellyfish Park" which with its backlit circular windows and lava-lamp-esque jellyfish looks as much like an art installation as it does an aquarium exhibit.
Beyond jellyfish, Kamo Aquarium is also home to an impressive collection of fresh and saltwater fish, a souvenir shop and a cafe which serves up plenty of jellyfish specialties including jellyfish ramen and jellyfish ice cream.
Sumida Aquarium - Penguins
Sumida Aquarium - Penguins
Just one of Tokyo Skytree Town’s many attractions, Sumida Aquarium is an impressive central Tokyo aquarium that houses over 10,000 sea creatures.
Located on the 5th and 6th floors of the shopping and entertainment complex Tokyo Solamachi, it’s well worth popping by if you’re in the city with a few extra hours up your sleeve. Although it’s not massive, the aquarium is home to the largest open indoor tank in Japan, which is over 350 thousand liters and houses penguins and seals.
One of the other highlights is the impressive jellyfish display and the tanks that have been crafted to resemble the Izu Islands, the Ogasawara Islands, and Tokyo Bay.
Shimoda Aquarium - Dolphin
Bobbing on the water of Wakanoura Bay on the Izu Penninsula is the Shimoda Floating Aquarium. Regarding marine life, it may not be the biggest or the best in the country, but it’s definitely one of Japan’s most uniquely constructed.
The centerpiece of Shimoda Aquarium is the 600-ton tank, which is home to 200 different species of fish, it also has sea otters, seals, and friendly dolphins. Throughout the day, the aquarium hosts live shows including a fish feeding show, a dolphin and a seal show.
Osaka Aquarium (Kaiyukan)
Osaka Aquarium - Hammerhead Shark
Osaka Aquarium - Kaiyukan
Head out to Tempozan Harbor Village in Osaka's bay area and you can’t miss the brightly colored geometrically designed Osaka Aquarium. The marine life display is broken up into 15 separate tanks, with each one representing a specific region of the Pacific Rim.
The focal piece is the aquarium’s center tank, which at nine meters deep represents the Pacific Ocean. The unique design of the space, all based around this central tank means that guests start their underwater exploration on the eighth floor at the top of the tank and spiral their way down to the bottom of the ‘Pacific Ocean’ witnessing up close the different sea creatures that call the aquarium home.
Churaumi Aquarium - Whale Shark
Widely considered to be Japan’s best aquarium, Churaumi Aquarium, also known as Churaumi Suizokukan in Okinawa Honto is well worth the journey for lovers of the aquatic world.
Although there’s plenty to explore, the main feature is Kuroshio Tank, one of the largest aquarium tanks in the world. Named after the tropical Kuroshio current that flows through the waters of Okinawa, the tank features massive whale sharks, some of the world’s biggest manta rays and a seemingly endless variety of other marine species.
Beyond the main tank, the aquarium grounds also feature multiple outdoor exhibits, live dolphin shows, coral displays, and other interactive exhibits. A visit to Churaumi Aquarium is about as close as you can get to living under the sea.