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After all the temples and shrines on your list are visited in Japan, perhaps it's time for a change of pace! Kyoto Aquarium is a seemingly small aquarium, but it more than makes up for it with diverse attractions from local species of fish to the classic penguins to salamanders!
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A day of temple and shrine visits can be exhausting, overwhelming, or even repetitive for some, such as little children who are not so into traditional and historical places. So, why not include in your travel plan a visit to one of Kyoto’s modern facilities, the Kyoto Aquarium?
Kyoto Aquarium is an indoor aquatic park located in Umekoji Park in Kyoto’s Shimogyo Ward. Since March 2012, Kyoto Aquarium has been a fantastic venue to enjoy and spend time with the family, both for locals and tourists. Guests, especially kids, will never get bored going around the twelve distinct zones in the aquarium. Each zone highlights different themes and exhibits a wide variety of aquatic plants and animals. A visit to the aquarium is also a good contingency plan during rainy seasons because as an indoor facility, bad weather will never be a problem. Have fun discovering the marine lifeforms and learning all about the wonders of the sea.
Here is a sneak peek of what you can expect in the Kyoto Aquarium:
The Rivers of Kyoto Zone celebrates the essence and connection of water and life, a belief that Kyoto locals are living for. The zone represents the river systems in Kyoto, such as Kamu and Yura Rivers that have played a vital role in establishing and sustaining the city. The main highlight of this zone is the sanctuary of rare Japanese giant salamanders considered a Special Natural Monument of Japan. These creatures can only survive in a very clean water environment.
Cuteness overload as you come and visit the Penguin Zone and meet the cute mascots of the aquarium, the Cape penguins. Watching these friendly and highly active birds diving and swimming in the pool or just wobbling and relaxing on the hill is so much fun and entertaining! Oh, and you can feed the adorable penguins too! There is also a penguin show every day that you do not want to miss, especially if you have kids.
Sit down and relax on the benches of Sea Animals Zone and enjoy the adorable sight of fur seals and earless seals swimming and playing around the pool. Depending on the season and your time of visit, you might be able to see them being fed and interacting with handlers or watch them sleeping on the rocks. If they are in the mood, you might get a chance to see them interact with guests, even with you!
Recreating the biodiversity of Japan's seas, the Sea of Kyoto is a large pool where different aquatic animals and sea creatures live and interact. There are various kinds of fish, big and small, turtles, rays, and up to 50 more species swimming around the pool. To replicate the natural habitat of these wonderful and colorful creatures, the aquarium added some caves, sandbanks, corals, and even waves on the pool. Visiting the Sea of Kyoto feels like going and living under the sea.
The Ocean Zone has four different sections wherein you can see varieties of aquatic plants and animals. There are starfish, sharks, octopus, squid, crustaceans like shrimps and crabs, and basically a home to many other sea creatures that can be found all around the world. One section you should not miss is the jellyfish section. It features around ten different jellyfish species, including the moon jellyfish.
Another highlight of the Kyoto Aquarium is the Dolphin Show at the Dolphin Stadium. Watching the dolphins playing and swimming will surely leave you glued to your seat. Here you will get a chance to witness these cute, curious, and smart creatures jumping and playing with their trainers. If you are lucky enough, you might even shake hands with these adorable dolphins.
If you love cute and artistic foods, you can go to Kaiju Café and avail of their bread designs that are inspired by the sea creatures you will find in the aquarium. You can also enjoy some food and relax at Stadium Café while watching graceful dolphins within sight. But if you want to grab some western dishes and snacks like burgers, pasta, and other meals, Harvest Café is the place for you.
Do not forget to buy some souvenirs as a remembrance of your great day in Kyoto Aquarium, a must for the sea lovers. There is a Gift Shop for all your souvenir needs in the aquarium where you can buy original products like stuffed toys of sea creatures, magnets, stationery, and many more.
Kyoto Aquarium is located in Umekoji Park and is open to the public 365 days a year unless there is a need for inspections. The opening hours vary - November to March is from 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM, and closes one hour later at 6:00 PM during the months from April to October. Please be reminded that the admission is only until one hour before the park closes. General admission tickets cost around 2,000 yen, while there are discounts for students who show their student I.D. If one day is not enough, an unlimited pass for a year can be purchased for approximately 4,000 yen.
The aquarium is only 15 minutes away from Kyoto Station and 7 minutes away from Umekoji-Kyotonishi Station on foot. You can also take city buses from the stations to the aquarium. Accessible, right?
There are so many places to visit in Kyoto, from historical and traditional sites to modern and innovative facilities like the Kyoto Aquarium. So on your next Japan escapade, do not forget to include Kyoto Aquarium in your itinerary and have a great day with your friends and family under the sea.
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