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Japan: Kanagawa (Hakone-en Aquarium/ 箱根園水族館)

Ashi no Ko or Lake Ashi is a scenic lake in the Hakone area of Kanagawa Prefecture. The area is known for its splendid views of Mount Fuji, numerous hot springs, historical sites and ryokan (inns).

Located at the edge of Ashi no Ko you will find Hakone-en, a 53,000 sq. ft. recreation complex operated by Prince Hotels & Resorts, consisting of an aquarium, shops, restaurant, barbequing area, theater and much more.

Opened in 1999, the Hakone-en Aquarium is home to 450 species of fish, approximately 32,000 total, collected from the lakes, rivers and oceans all over the world. The facility features both salt water and fresh water aquariums. The fresh water section displays over 2,000 rare fresh water fish from 150 species including the African Lungfish. The salt water section houses a massive tank measuring 56 ft. in width and 36 ft. in length. This tank is home to over 20,000 salt water fish. The Hakone-en Aquarium is known as the highest aquarium located above sea level in Japan. Consequently, seawater is transported by tanker from Numazu City in Shizuoka twice daily to meet the aquarium’s requirement of 20 tons of sea water per day.

The salt water fish are fed once every weekday and twice on Saturdays and holidays. Visitors flock to view the divers swimming together with the fish underwater during feeding time.

Aside from the massive collection of fish, perhaps the biggest attraction at the aquarium is the Baikal Seal Square area where the seals are famous for a routine involving so-called drinking in the hot spring pose. The seals are floating in the water holding a cypress bucket with a sake bottle placed within and a small hand towel placed on their heads. The scene is just beyond description and really merits being seen to be believed. The seal show takes place twice on weekdays and three times per day on Saturdays and holidays.

You can easily incorporate the aquarium in to a day trip from Tokyo as it is merely an hour and 43 minutes by train from Tokyo Station via the Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen.  Exit the shinkansen at Odawara Station and switch to the Romancer (Hakone 83) to Hakoneyumoto Station.

The aquariums hours of operation are from 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM and the admission charge is ¥1,500 for adults and ¥750 for children aged 4 through elementary school level.

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Feeding time

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Gift shop

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Address:          139, Motohakone-cho, Ashigarashimo-gun

Web page:          http://www.princehotels.co.jp/amuse/hakone-en/suizokukan/index.html

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