Osaka, as the second largest city in Japan, has so much to see and do. There is Amerika-mura, an entirely americana-inspired shopping district, Dotonbori electric town with it's newly and beautifully renovated canal walkway, Osaka Castle with it's surrounding forest and moat, and not to mention the port- / river- city's 760 different bridges. And then there's Osaka's world-famous aquarium, Kaiyukan.
When I was planning my cross-country tour of Japan with my trusty JR Rail Pass, there were a billion reasons to visit Osaka, but the enormous aquarium was the biggest draw for me. And when I finally made it it did not disappoint one bit. The aquarium houses nearly thirty thousands different animals across nearly five hundred species (many of which I did not know existed), in brilliantly laid out displays organized by home-region of the animals.
When you enter the aquarium you cross through the Japanese forests with giant salamanders, otters and waterfall crabs, and then through the Tunnel Tank where sharks and rays swim above and around you. Then you reach the main area of the aquarium, where most of the main dozen or so tanks are all over three-stories tall. A walk-way that starts you off near the top and slowly winds around the tanks to the bottom, with one main gigantic tank in the middle. It's a really incredible design that allows you to see all the different tanks and animals from different angles.
The various surrounding tanks include an Antarctic tank with penguins, a Tasmanian Sea tank with dolphins, a Great Barrier Reef tank with a living reef full of tropical fish, and an Aleutian Islands tank with sea otters. But the main tank around which the path winds from top to bottom is the Pacific Ocean tank, which houses various types of sting rays, manta rays, tuna, and sharks.
The main attraction of this tank is the absolutely enormous whale shark, which measures over nine meters long. It's a seriously incredible sight that never fails to be breathtaking, no matter how many times the aquarium's path takes you back to the main tank for a new angle to view from. Visiting the Osaka Aquarium really made a childhood dream of mine come true, and all the kids visiting the aquarium were obviously never going to forget their visit. But it is also inspiring as architecture, as nature and as an amazing and immersive dive into the ocean worlds.
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