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As a nation intimately connected with the ocean, it makes sense that Japan would have its share of aquariums. Each one has its own unique features, but perhaps no other aquarium gives you such a personal feel for marine life as Kamogawa Sea World in Chiba Prefecture.
Unlike many aquariums, Kamogawa Sea World doesn't bring the ocean to you – it brings you to the ocean! Located on the eastern side of the beautiful Boso Peninsula, it is one of the few aquariums in the country that boasts seaside views. The parking lot for the aquarium is only a few steps away from the sandy shores and crashing waves of the Pacific coast.
The smell of fresh ocean spray is just the beginning of the experience at Kamogawa Sea World. The main focus of this aquarium is the chance to experience the intelligence and fun of a marine life closely and personally through a series of entertaining performances. There are four main performances: one for dolphins, one for beluga whales, another for the killer whale, and finally one for sea lions. These are conveniently located and timed, so that guests can watch each show in succession.
Each performance is designed to show just how incredible and unique the creatures are. With acrobatic flips and twists, and even a song, the dolphins are sure to amaze both young and old. The sea lions take a more playful approach, in which they display impressive balance and finesse. However, one might argue the real star is the killer whale. Weighing around 2 tons, the sheer mass of this majestic creature is difficult to fathom. You'll get a good idea for the size though when it leaps from the water and comes crashing down, shaking the entire stadium and soaking visitors as much as 6 rows up!
After the show is over, there are still more ways to enjoy seeing and learning about different kinds of sea animals. Immediately following the sea lion performance, visitors can pay an extra fee to take photos with a smiling sea lion and yes - it really does smile! In a separate area from the show, guests can touch and feed the dolphins. A fourth show which happens inside—the beluga whale performance—includes interaction as part of the show. The beluga whale is able to mimic the noise an audience participant makes, live in front of everyone. Apparently they don't get stage fright!
Although these performances and interactions are the main attraction of Kamogawa Sea World, there is plenty more to enjoy after they are finished. One of my favorite parts during my trip was the "Tropical Island" section. In this area, there is a lovely sandy beach with simulated waves. In these same waters swim hundreds of tropical fish and a number of sea turtles. Sea turtles have a special emphasis at Kamogawa Sea World, because these beautiful animals are actually born on the adjacent beaches. The staff at the aquarium help protect the eggs when found, and even bring them into a special birthing area on the aquarium grounds when necessary. Along with a number of other displays, including interactive ones to facilitate learning, it is easy to stay in this area at length enjoying the beauty of the ocean life.
With all the walking and learning you'll be doing during a trip to Kamogawa Sea World, you're sure to get hungry. Thankfully, they have you covered with restaurants options that are just as unique as the aquarium itself. One of the best dining options is known as the Restaurant Ocean. Don't let the simple name fool you however – this is one of the most unique restaurants in the country. Nowhere else in Japan can you dine while watching killer whales swim around from below! Along with a fantastic menu, this is sure to be a memorable dining experience.
If you're wondering how to get to Kamogawa Sea World, thankfully there is an easy option available from Tokyo. Using an express bus from Tokyo Station, visitors can get round trip tickets that include entrance to the aquarium for just ¥5,500. Not only does that save on travel costs, but saves 600 yen off the cost of admission as well. This ticket is available outside of the Yaesu Central exit end of Tokyo Station at either the Keisei Express Bus Lounge, or the Aqua Express Bus stop. If you're staying in the Tokyo area, this is a great option to consider.
However you choose to get there, a visit to Kamogawa Sea World is a day trip well spent. With beautiful facilities, incredible performances, and breathtaking ocean views, it is sure to be one of the most memorable marine life experiences you will ever have. It is a one of a kind experience you can only get in Japan!