The Oarai Aqua World (アクアワールド・大洗), also known as the Oarai Aquarium and located in the coastal town of Ōarai in northern Ibaraki Prefecture, is one of the largest aquariums in Japan.
Consisting of nine exhibition zones based on specific themes, it spreads over seven floors, displaying 580 different species of sea and water creatures in over 60 tanks. It is estimated that the tanks contain a total of over 68,000 individuals.
The largest tank is home to 20,000 individuals of 80 different species, while the shark tanks hold 52 species of sharks. The largest shark tank has a tunnel that allows visitors to watch the fish from beneath. Another rather unusual attraction is a 270-cubic-metre tank with several ocean sunfish.
Other zones are devoted to the deep sea, rivers and lakes, the Seas of the World (Okinawa, the Caribbean, the Red Sea, the Tasman Sea, and the Sea of Okhotsk), the Sea Life of Ibaraki, as well as to marine mammals (California sea lions, spotted seals, and sea otters). At the "Oceanfront" facing the Pacific ocean, Humboldt penguins, sea lions, tufted puffins, and capybara are on display. A special attraction are the dolphin and seal shows that take place four times a day.
There is a well-stuffed museum shop that will satisfy even the most peculiar tastes for maritime omiyage, while starved visitors can enjoy lunch at the food court. Local food and souvenirs can be acquired right next to the entrance to Aqua World.
- Founded: July 1, 1970 as Oarai Aquarium
- Floor space: 19,800 square meters
- Sea creatures on display: 68,000
- Species on display: 580
- Shark species: 52
- Total tank volume: 4,100 cubic meters
- Number of tanks: 60
- Number of visitors: 15 million as of May 14, 2015
Opening hours and admission:
Open daily from 09:00-17:00, last entry at 16:00. Closed a few days for maintenance in June and December.
Admission: 1,800 JPY for adults, 900 JPY (children aged 7-15), 300 JPY for children aged 3-7. Special discounts available for school classes (600 JPY and 200 JPY) and for groups of more than 20 people: 1,400 JPY, 700 JPY, 250 JPY.
Address: Aqua World Ibaraki Prefectural Oarai Aquarium, 8252-3 Isohama, Oarai-Town, Ibaraki; phone: 029-267-5151 fax: 029-267-5920.
By train from Tokyo: JR Joban Line Limited Express to Mito (80min), from JR Mito Sta. with Kashima Rinkai Tetsudo Line to Oarai Sta. (15min) and by Kaiyu-go loop bus to Oarai Aqua World (15min).
By car: Joban Highway to Tomobe JCT, then via Kitakanto Highway to Mito-Oarai IC and Route 51 to Oarai. Aqua World has a free parking lot for 750 vehicles, but there are more parking lots adjacent to the aquarium.
- Oarai Aqua World (official website in Japanese and English)
- Director's message (in English)
- Aqua World Oarai Opens its Doors