Exploring the Waters at the Churaumi Aquarium in Okinawa

The largest aquarium in Japan showcases the local flora and fauna, from the smallest fish to the giants of the seas.


WordsLéa-Trâm Berrod

© Okinawa Travel JinoTour

Covering an area of 19,000 m² and home to 26,000 marine animals and 740 living species, the Churaumi Aquarium (chura means ‘beautiful’ in the Okinawa dialect and umi means ‘sea’ in Japanese) opened in 2002 and is situated on the coast of Motobu peninsula, on the former site of the International Oceans Exhibition held in 1975.

Part of the Ocean Expo Park, a leisure complex, it is considered the largest aquarium in Japan.


Tropical fish, dolphins, deep-sea animals

Known for its white sandy beaches, the island of Okinawa is home to a vast marine ecosystem that is represented in the Churaumi aquatic park and its 77 tanks.

One of the aquarium’s four floors houses an exhibition dedicated to Japan’s tropical sea floors. Multicoloured corals, giant lobsters, striped eels… As the sun’s rays are reflected in the water, the different tanks reproduce scenes of life in the wild.

Further on in the visit, the ‘Deep Sea Experience’ room invites tourists to observe rare, luminescent species that can usually only be seen whilst deep-sea diving. By reproducing the pressure, light and water temperature, these animals find themselves in conditions similar to those of their natural environment, over 200 metres deep.

But the experience doesn’t end there. Various dolphin shows are held inside the building throughout the day.


The power of the sea and its dangers

The main tank at the Churaumi Aquarium is known as ‘Kuroshio Sea’, a name taken from the warm current that flows off the coast of Japan, and contains a reservoir covering an area of 7 500 m³.

Behind the vast acrylic pane that is 35 metres long, 27 metres wide and 10 metres deep, an 8.6-metre whale shark lives alongside reef manta rays and other rare species. Twice a day, visitors can watch these majestic creatures being fed, their diet consisting mainly of plankton, fish eggs and algae.

Thus, faced with this spectacle where living beings swim above their heads, visitors can get a sense of the power of the sea and its dangers.


More information can be found on the official website for the Churaumi Aquarium in Okinawa.

© Okinawa Travel JinoTour

© Okinawa Travel JinoTour