Ōsaka Aquarium aka Kaiyūkan

It’s hard to miss the approach to the Ōsaka Aquarium given the enormous ferris wheel beside it. But more on that later.

On the plaza a street performer juggles fire and does a clever balancing act. But I’m not here to see him.

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Fortunately, it’s not a busy day so the queues are short and I get in straight away.

In no time I’m confronted by tiny hammerheads sharks and an assortment of colourful, tropical fish and small sting rays.

Next stop is a Japanese mori (森: forest) complete with waterfall. Apparently otters live here but I can’t see them as their sleeping. But as they’re fed 3-times a day I’ll return later.

Some smaller tanks hold a variety of ducks, smews, herons & an egret.

Another tank houses larger sea otters but, unlike their smaller cousins, these guys are busy swimming on their backs and generally showing off.

Up next is a large display for the sea lions & harbour seals. Most are active to the delight of onlookers. Feeding time arrives and they don’t disappoint with the usual show of clever tricks.

Next door are ring-tailed coaties. They’re raccoon-like creatures but with long snouts and long striped tails like lemurs although their behaviour reminds me quite a lot of possums.

In the water below are pufferfish. porcupinefish and more tropical fish.

A freshwater tank with an extensive assortment of tetras don’t seem interested in the large iguana whose tail is draped over a branch and into the water.

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In stark contrast the next tank is home to huge – really huge – aptly named colossama, a freshwater stingray, catfish and a few enormous pirarucu.

A capybara (large rodent) has a display to himself. Apparently they can weigh as much as an adult human. Hard to believe a rat can get that big but this guy looks to be well on his way.

A snow covered rock shelf is home to a number of adorable penguins: Emperor, Adelie, Gentoo, and King. Comically awkward. Yet graceful in their element. One in particular has placed himself strategically below the snow shower.

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A pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins perform to the crowd during feeding time. It’s great being so close to them and seeing their underwater antics.

The Great Barrier Reef display reminds me of home: lots and lots of iro (色: colour).

The next section has on one side an octopus scuttling along the bottom of the tank, with more fish but very different to what I’ve seen so far, plus a nasty looking moray eel.

On the other side are the stunning spotted eagle rays, odd-looking shovelnose rays, and a glorious manta ray. All happily living with prehistoric hammerheads and the like.

Magical schools of sardines and anchovies move in unison like an orchestra of musicians.

A separate tank houses quirky oval squids and the evil-looking largehead hairtails.

But the main attraction is the whale shark in all of his majesty. Commanding yet docile. A beautiful beast.

I’m almost at the end when I come to a series of very small tanks. One has a bizarre-looking Darwin jawfish. Another is full of sea horses and sticklebacks. A third has a variety of ebi (えび; shrimp).

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I spy a venerable sea turtle. There isn’t much this place isn’t have.

But just when I thought I’d seen it all, giant spider crabs like alien machines straight out of “War of the Worlds” creep and crawl their way in yet another tank.

All up its been a wonderful experience and I would be more than satisfied if it finished here but then I discover the room full of kurage (海月: jellyfish). Wow! Definitely my favourites. I love these guys. The way they move is like ink dropped in water. So fluid. They’re glorious!

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This place is a must see!

Kim*

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