The Osaka Kaiyukan (海遊館) is one of the largest aquariums in the world and is a great place to spend an entire day when you’re visiting Osaka. It has dolphins, penguins, sea lions, jellyfish, capybaras and all sorts of marine life from around the world.
Getting there is easy, just take the Chuo Line to Osakako station and walk about 5-10 minutes from Exit 2. But before you board the metro, make sure you go to any station office and buy the Osaka Kaiyu Ticket. It combines the aquarium entry ticket with a one-day pass on the metro system for a value-for-money deal.
Plus you get to keep the super cute ticket, which by the way, I still have in my wallet to this day. Because, kawaii desu!
As you walk towards the aquarium, you can use the large Ferris wheel to point the way. The Kaiyukan is just past it, after the mall and a small stretch of shops. When we arrived that morning, the plaza was filled with school kids on an excursion.
The first thing that you do after entering is to take the lift up to the eighth floor, where you walk past a small souvenir shop. We kept telling ourselves that there would be a much larger shop on the ground floor on our way out, and that we should not buy anything here. But we failed miserably, and stocked up on random (but oh so cute!) merch.
Once the souvenir shop releases you from its siren song, you queue up to enter a tunnel where fish surround you and start your journey.
The main tank of the aquarium is structured as a huge column wrapped around by a spiral ramp that guides visitors downwards across numerous exhibits that showcase
seafood sorry, marine creatures, from different parts of the world.
There were displays with the location and timing of the numerous feeding sessions throughout the day and we adjusted our pace to catch as many of them as possible.
Some of the feeding times were exactly as advertised, like this extremely chilled out Capybara here, happily munching on grass and not doing anything else. Since I don’t have any capybara friends in real life, I couldn’t tell from its expression if it was genuinely happy or not. But let’s just assume that it was.
Some, like the Penguins, were a bit more animated and ran towards the handlers once they figured out there was food coming.
Well, maybe saying that they ran was too generous, because they mostly just waddled around and didn’t manage to pick up much speed. To be fair, they are very fast underwater though.
And after a nice meal of fresh sashimi, an afternoon nap is always nice.
The highlight among all the feeding sessions was definitely the one with the Dolphins. It was the most popular among the kids, who were all squeezing up against the glass wall to catch them in action.
The Sea Lions came in a close second with an entertaining performance.
Soon, it was time for our own feeding session at Fugetsu in the adjacent mall. The okonomiyaki and yakisoba set was filling and gave us energy for Round Two in the aquarium.
From five o’clock onward, the aquarium switches into “night mode” with lights changing to a dark blue hue. Feeding times were all done for the day and we walked down the spiral ramp leisurely, enjoying the various exhibits, including many Schools of fish, …
… various types of Sea Rays gliding elegantly through the water …
… and Giant Crabs walking on their long spiny legs, with some apparently ganging up to bully the smaller ones. I spent some time at the crab tanks admiring them and unconsciously wondering how they would taste.
There was also an informative exhibit providing details of the 30cm-thick(!) acrylic glass used throughout the aquarium.
And you can’t miss the official mascot of the Kaiyukan — the humongous Whale Shark, which has free reign inside the massive main tank and spends its days swimming elegantly within the enclosure.
The aquarium also has an Interactive Exhibit where you get to find out what kind of fish you are, and how you would look if you were not human. Apparently The Wife is a yellow boxfish with a polka-dotted face and poisonous skin.
Nearby, there’s a section featuring smaller fish that like to hide …
… and an entire room filled with different types of Jellyfish.
I’ve always found jellyfish mesmerising to look at, and there was a large wall-sized tank filled with countless tiny ones just floating around.
It was getting late so we bought more merch at the gift shop, headed back to the hotel for a light dinner and called it a night.
Spending an entire day at the aquarium may sound like overkill, but the next time you’re in Osaka, give it a try. It was thoroughly enjoyable for us, and there’s a good chance it would be for you as well.
Eleven days in Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto
The world has changed forever due to that-which-must-not-be-named and international travel is on an indefinite pause. There are many countries we want to visit again and Japan is definitely among the top choices.
In the meantime, as we remain grounded in Singapore, we can look back and remember the wonderful time we had in our eleven days in Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto during the autumn of 2018, two years and a lifetime ago.