While the Oarai Suizokukan (Aquarium) has been around for many years, it now has reopened on a far grander scale than before. It promises to be quite an attraction, with huge aquariums with thousands of fish and other sea life. All together, there are 60 major aquariums containing over 68,000 individuals of some 580 species. These include one really huge aquarium with over 20,000 fish (80 species) that are described on monitors so that you can spot which is which. Another giant aquarium consists of a tunnel that viewers walk through with 40 varieties of sharks and other predators swimming overhead. One tank contains Japan's largest sunfish, and it is followed by various smaller aquariums containing ecosystems varying from tropical seas (Okinawa, Caribbean) to cold oceans such as the Sea of Okhotsk. Otters and seals are featured in other tanks, and there is even a deep-sea aquarium.
The "Ocean Theater" features dolphin and whale shows, and you can even view them jumping from viewpoints below the tank where you are looking up at them jumping out of the water and plunging back in. Various museum-like displays, including computer graphics, make this a very educational experience, as you can learn so much about life in the sea. In addition, there are even displays detailing the ecology of the Naka River as it flows from its headwaters into the ocean.
Aqua World Oarai is located on the coast at the mouth of the Naka River just a few kilometers north of the Oarai Port. It takes just a bit over an hour by car (assuming you take the expressway, of course). Exit at the Mito, Oarai exit of the Kita Kanto Expressway on to Route 51 and go towards the coast. Exit it to the left a few kilometers down to go into the center of Oarai and follow that road right to the coast. Turn left and follow that up to Aqua World. Parking is free and the entrance fee is 1800 yen for adults, 900 yen for elementary and junior high school children, and 300 yen for pre-school children over 3. Doors open at 9 am and close at 7 pm. They have maintenance days on the 4th Monday and Tuesday of June and the 2nd Monday and Tuesday of December, and they are closed Dec. 29th to Jan. 1st.
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