JAPAN: Fukushima (Fukushima Aquamarine)

If you are interested in marine life, there is an attraction located in Iwaki City that you should not miss while visiting Fukushima Prefecture.  Officially called the Marine Science Museum, the facility opened in July of 2000. The museum’s nickname, Fukushima Aquamarine, was selected from a total of 4,722 entries back in 1998.

The highlight of the museum is the main tank, which holds 540,000 gallons of water. There is a unique triangular walkway that gives visitors the sensation of actually being in the tank, surrounded by the water and the creatures swimming in it.

On the first floor, visitors will be provided with a look at the evolution of life in the seas. It contains living fossils such as the Nautilus, the White Sturgeon, the Giant Salamander and the Spotted Ratfish. The main tank can be found on the second floor and the third floor is dedicated to the marine mammals and sea birds from the Northern Pacific. There is a botanical garden on the fourth floor which showcases plant life in Fukushima and from where visitors can glimpse the top of the main tank.

During the earthquake and ensuing tsunami of 2011, power was cut off to the aquarium and a majority of the fish perished. Some of the marine mammals and sea birds were transferred to Kamagawa Sea World located 62 miles south of the aquarium as well as Ueno Zoo in Tokyo, Tokyo Sea Life Park, Mito Sea Paradise and the New Enoshima Aquarium. The main building sustained only minor damage but the outside pools were washed away. Fortunately, restoration work began soon after and the aquarium re-opened to the public on July 15, 2011.

If you are hungry, there is a restaurant which serves seafood on the premises called the Oishii Aquarium Aqua Cross. There are also three different gift shops where you can select a memento from your visit or an omiyage (souvenir) to bring home to your family and friends.

A trip to the aquarium is an experience the entire family can enjoy.  From Yumoto Station, take the bus bound for Onahama. The aquarium is 15-20 minutes on foot from the Onahama stop.

Web page: http://www.marine.fks.ed.jp/english/index.html

Address: Onahama Pier 2, 50,Tatsumi-cho, Onahama, Iwaki-shi, Fukushima 971-8101 JAPAN

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