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Something Fishy at Tokyo’s Aquariums

Suffering from a case of the winter ‘blahs’? While it might be a bit cold to spend all day at the zoo, why not try one of the aquariums in the Tokyo vicinity?

Shinagawa Aquarium

Right in the heart of Tokyo, this aquarium is easy to get to and has just enough to keep your kids content for half a day. Seaworld it isn’t-the layout is rather cramped and the tanks and enclosures are, frankly, on the small side. However, the location and the size make it particularly good with small children. There are also shows, including the always-popular dolphin show-but plan to go early, the small theatre fills up quickly on weekends. Another bonus is that this aquarium is located inside the Shinagawa Kumin Koen park. There is a decent playground and you can borrow bicycles for kids of all sizes-for free!

Sunshine International Aquarium

Another downtown aquarium, Sunshine Aquarium is set high in the sky in the Sunshine City complex in Ikebukuro. As there are no dolphins here, my kids preferred the Shinagawa Aquarium. But in terms of access to parking and shopping (there is a mall in the same building), this aquarium probably wins the parental vote. They also have a small zoo area, so you get the best of both worlds here.

Tokyo Sealife Park

This has to be my favorite! While it is not as conveniently located as the first two, it is well worth a trip. There are no fancy shows here, but the clean layout and panoramic viewing tanks are among the best I’ve seen, and the prices can’t be beat! This is an aquarium that has been designed as much for the inhabitants as for the viewing public. It is located the Kasai Rinkai park, with a strip of ‘beach’ outside if the kids want to play afterwards, which makes for a nice day out.

Enoshima Aquarium

If you want to escape from the city and make a daytrip out of it, this beachfront aquarium is the perfect choice. It is spacious and well designed. When we visited in the autumn, the dolphin show had been revamped: instead of the standard ‘jumping on command,’ the show had been changed into a dreamy water ballet, with syncro-swimming ‘mermaids’ interacting naturally with the dolphins. My girls were entranced! Afterwards, blow the cobwebs away with a brisk walk along the beach.

Shinagawa Aquarium
(Shinagawa Suizokukan)

Katsushima 3-2-1, Shinagawa-ku (inside the Shinagawa Kumin Koen Park). An 8 min. walk from Omori-Kaigan station on the Keihin Kyukou line, or catch the free shuttle bus from JR Oimachi station. The adjacent parking lot fills up quickly; you may need to search for public parking in the vicinity. Open from 10 to 5, closed on Tues. Adults: \1100, School age: \600, Over 4: \400. (Japanese)

Sunshine City International Aquarium (Sunshine Kokusai Suizokukan)

Higashi Ikebukuro 3-1-3, Toshima-ku (on the roof of the Sunshine City World Import Mart Bldg.). By train, an 8 min. walk from the east exit of Ikebukuro station. Plenty of parking in the huge (but pricey) Sunshine City parking lot. Open every day from 10 to 6 (6.30 on weekends/holidays). Adults: \1800, Children: \900. (Japanese)

Sealife Park

Rinkai-cho 5-2-3, Edogawa-ku. By train, a 5-min. walk from JR Kasai Rinaki Koen station. No designated parking; use one of the public parking lots. Open 9.30 to 5, closed on Wed. Adults: \700, Junior High Students: \250, Under 13: free. (English)

New Enoshima Aquarium
(Shin-Enoshima Suizokukan)

Katase-Kaigan 2-19-1, Fujisawa-shi, Kanagawa-ken. By train, a 3-min. walk from Katase-Enoshima station on the Odakyu Line. No designated parking; use one of several public lots in the vicinity . Open every day from 9 to 5. Adults: \2000, School Age: \1000, Over 3: \600. (Japanese)

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