One of the star attractions in Osaka is the Aquarium down in the redevelped port area. It sounded a lot like Nagoya's port area, just with a Universal Studios added in. It was, to a certain extent. The Osaka Aquarium building is actually much smaller than Nagoya's, so I was kind of worried going in. I needn't have bothered with the worry at all.
Like the Nagoya Aquarium, there was a geographical theme. The exhibits followed the "Ring of Fire" around the Pacific, from Japan to the Aleutian Islands to California to Panama to Chile to New Zealand. The coolest thing in this part was the Sea Otters. Now, we have all seen pictures of Sea Otters floating on their backs and looking super cute. Its kind of what they do. Look cute, eat a few clams. But like so many things in life, the photos don't quite tell the whole story. For instance, Sea Otters are huge. Well, not Whale huge, but much larger than your garden variety otter, the ones I saw were certainly over 4 feet long, and I heare they can reach up to 5 feet. They were certainly cute, but the cuteness had a bit of an edge to it. "I'm cute, but I'm death on abalone!" I was suitably impressed.
As I circled around the perimeter, I discovered a very interesting design choice. Depth. Each tank was pretty deep, and as you walked around you would descend, so you could see the Monteray Sea Lions lounging on the rocks, then downstairs could see them swimming freely. The Dolphin tank was also like that, surface and underwater. Now that in and of itself isn't the biggest breakthrough, I mean The Denver Zoo has that too with Polar Bears and Sea Lions. But... But, turn the corner and you see it is a breakthrough of fantastic proportions.
The Osaka Aquarium has the largest tank in the world. Now note that that is larget enclosed tank, I believe that some of the pools at places like Sea World may be larger. But that does not diminish the scale of this accomplishment. 4 stories tall, the Pacific Ocean in one giant fish tank. Inside was the star attraction, a Whale Shark. He was an impressive sight, swimming lazily around just looking big. But what really captured my attention was the Manta Ray. I have seen rays of other sorts, some even as much as a couple of feet across. I've always thought they looked really cool, but I had forgotten that Rays can get really, really big. I honestly don't know the dimensions of the Osaka Manta Ray, but I'd say his wings were easy 8-10 feet. They can get much bigger in the wild, though, and its not like I could just get out a tape measure!
With all the sharks and rays and other strange creatures, it was no surprise to hear some little kid bawling his eyes out. After all, some of these creatures were pretty freaky looking, I can easily see them giving a nightmare or two to some impressionable youngster. But the real nightmare creatures were downstairs. The large deep sea crabs, the kind that look like evil aliens coming out of the darkest night to eat you, and your family. They looked mean, and pretty cool actually! Next to the crabs were jellyfish, now those are my nightmare species. Just so passively active. They seem like harmless sacks of jelly yet are voracious predators. Ugh.
Well, there you go, a tour through Osaka Aquarium, certainly a thumbs up attraction. Osaka Castle is actually the most visited sightseeing site in Osaka, but I'd say the fishes are more worthwhile. Though the castle is pretty cool too.
Its a whale. no its a shark. Ok lets call it Whaleshark.
I love watching schools of fish. Talk about following the herd.
If you have to get a job washing windows, this would be a pretty darn cool place to do it.
Here's looking at you, kid.
Deep Sea Crabs.
The Manta Ray.
Slow motion death.
Osaka at night, that is Shin-Sakai, and it was right near the hotel, a bit past Spa World.
Ok, hope you've enjoyed Osaka Vacation 1 in a series. As an aside I have made it safey to Kanazawa and am already planning my shopping trip. Need: Boots, Winter Jammies, and a portable heater!