Monday, August 23, 2010

The Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium

by Pa Rock
Cultural Explorer

The Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium is the largest aquarium in Japan.  It sits on the site of the Okinawa Ocean Expo that was held on the island in 1975 as part of a global celebration of the U.S. government returning Okinawa to Japanese control three years earlier.  It was a world's fair of sorts.

The welcoming sea turtle!
Today Ocean Expo Park is  home to the Churaumi Aquarium as well as to a major arboretum.  This time we saw the fish - next time I hope to see the plants.

One of the highlights of this beautiful aquarium is the presence of two very large whale sharks with their attendant remoras.  There were also several varieties of manta rays, shiny tuna, smaller sharks, and a wide variety of beautiful and colorful smaller fish - all apparently living happily in the largest of the aquariums.

A small cafe is situated at one end of the largest aquarium, providing  guests with the opportunity to sip their tea and coffee\ as they sit almost beneath the creatures of the sea.   The view from our restaurant table was mesmerizing almost to the point of being completely hypnotic.  It took unusual effort and concentration to get up and leave!

A whale shark entertains his guests!
The lesser aquariums held other aquatic life like turtles, lobsters, and, or course, a wide assortment of fish.  There were also many small exhibits of specific types of sea life, as well as a "petting pool" where visitors could reach in and feel starfish and other unusual aquatic life forms.

The long drive to the Churaumi Aquarium culminates in a wonderful experience!  Okinawa, you've done well with this one!

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