JAPAN: Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan and Tempozan Harbor Village

Japan Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan Whale SharkOsaka Aquarium Kaiyukan was the original main Osaka tourist attraction before it got overshadowed by Universal Studios Japan. It is one of the biggest aquariums in the world. All of their exhibits are indoor and is housed on a gigantic, beautifully designed building. The whole attraction is composed of 16 main exhibits and the building contains nearly 11,000 tons of water. With all these details in mind, it is not hard to imagine why Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan used to be the Osaka's main tourist magnet.

Japan Osaka Aquarium KaiyukanOsaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, or simply known as Kaiyukan for the locals, is easily accessible from the Osakako Station of Osaka Subway Chuo Line. It is part of the bigger area known as Tempozan Harbor Village.

Japan Osaka Aquarium KaiyukanYou really just need about a couple of hours to navigate through the whole aquarium. If you are planning to spend a whole day or afternoon in the area and check out the other attraction in the Tempozan Harbor Village, you should buy combo tickets with the aquarium. You can get a combo ticket for Kaiyukan plus the Suntory Museum nearby, or a ticket that includes a sightseeing cruise aboard the ship named "Santa Maria", or a ticket that includes a ride to the Tempozan Giant Ferris Wheel.

Japan Osaka Aquarium KaiyukanThe visit to Kaiyukan starts in the aquarium tunnel. It was clean and simple, probably the simplest and smallest aquarium tunnel we have seen. There are no corals, just a plain blue background with little fishes swimming around. We cannot be too hard on them and start comparing them to other aquariums because they are actually one of the first aquarium of its kind.

Japan Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan dolphinThere are a couple of great picture spots that are perfect for couples like us, since they have a photographer that will take your photo with their camera first and then your own camera. The first spot features the star of Kaiyukan which is the whale shark, then the second features the locals' favorite: dolphins. The photo they took with their own camera, if you choose to buy it from them, is 1,000jpy. It is a lot cheaper compared to other parks and as always, it comes with a themed framed, that's why we bought both of our photos and is currently on display in our bedroom.

Japan Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan penguinAnother local favorite amongst the exhibits are the penguins. Well, we just assumed it is a favorite because lots of people were taking a picture of the penguin statues right before going in the aquarium tunnel, and a bunch of people are gathered around the penguin tank as well, all of them with huge smiles. We kinda understood them too after we saw the display because those penguins are really fun to watch.

Japan Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan dolphinA great feature of this aquarium is that they have mini-shows while they feed the animals. It's not really much of a show really but they just ask the animals to do some simple tricks as they feed them. When we were there, we were able to watch dolphins being fed and doing cool tricks and otters being fed as well. You can also watch them groom animals if you are in the right place at the right time. We were lucky enough to watch a staff member groom a sea lion and a huge rodent like creature known as a Capybara.

Japan Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan Japanese Giant Spider CrabMaybe one of the most unique sight you can see in Kaiyukan is the huge tank filled with Japanese Giant Spider Crabs. We have seen Japanese Giant Spider Crabs before in Manila Ocean Park and also Hong Kong Ocean Park but both of them just have one crab on display in a small tank. Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan has a tank maybe about twenty times bigger and has at least a dozen Japanese Giant Spider Crab living in it. It was such a tank to marvel at. It almost looks like it was taken from a prehistoric site.

Japan Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan Whale SharkBut the main star of Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan are the Whale Sharks. We both have been to a number of aquariums world wide and the Whale Shark is by far the most enormous creature we have seen housed in a tank inside a building. We haven't done our research but we will not be surprised if it is actually the biggest live animal on display inside a building. There were three of them in this tank and all three of them are huge, just a slight difference in size. Too bad that people in Japan actually fish them out from the ocean to sell their meat for food since it is a Japanese delicacy.

Japan Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan GalleryThe final stop for Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan is the Kaiyukan Gallery. It offers a number of interactive activities mainly created for the younger audiences. You will have the chance to touch baby sharks and sting rays. A few FAQs posters are also present around the area, some history behind Kaiyukan and it exhibits, as well as some educational shows playing on screens.

Osaka Japan Tempozan Harbor Village Tempozan Giant Ferris WheelAs said earlier, Kaiyukan is not the only attraction in Tempozan Harbor Village. The Giant Tempozan Ferris Wheel is probably the next most popular attraction, next to Kaiyukan. This is based on the long queue, probably even longer than Kaiyukan.

Osaka Japan Tempozan Harbor Village Tempozan Giant Ferris WheelWe are not really sure why but Osakans love ferris wheels and it is evident by the number of ferris wheels we have seen in the city. In our research before we went to Osaka, the Tempozan Giant Ferris Wheel was the only one we were aware of. When we just got there and we rode the train from the airport, we thought that it is the Tempozan Giant Ferris Wheel that we saw in the Rinku Town Station because it was also enormous. We found out later that it was a different ferris wheel and Rinku Town is an old theme park that is already closed expect for the ferris wheel ride.

Osaka Japan Naniwa Kuishinbo Yokocho Food Theme ParkA great place to take a break and get some food from is the Naniwa Kuishinbo Yokocho Food Theme Park inside Tempozan Market Place. They have a variety of meals and snacks that cater to both tourists and locals alike.

Osaka Japan Suntory Museum IMAX TheaterLastly, there is Suntory Museum, which is the farthest attraction from Osakako Station. They have an exhibition for modern art featured in their gallery when we were there and they were also showing Hubble 3D on their IMAX Theater. The tickets were cheap so we went for it even though we were not really interested on either of their attractions. It's a good thing we did  because we found out that Suntory Museum actually closed its doors the end of that year(2010).

Osaka Japan Suntory Museum