Famous as one of the world’s largest and truly an Okinawan pride is the Churaumi Aquarium. Located in Motobu District, it is perhaps the most visited by the tourists in the entire Okinawa island. It boosts an approximate land area of 10,000 m² with a building four-stories high. It also proudly houses 77 exhibition tanks.
4TH Floor. The first to greet visitors is a giant whale shark statue on the fourth floor of the aquarium. This is just a teaser as to what awaits everyone past this entry.
3RD FLOOR. A beautiful glimpse of the colorful and very diverse coral world are being showcased on the third floor of the aquarium. Here, visitors enjoy the shallow touch pool, a tank of tropical and freshwater fish and a gallery about the coral world. One of the favorites here is the Coral Sea tank which has no roof and is open to the sky hence the appearance of the tank and how marine creatures behave differs according to the time of the day.
2ND FLOOR . The Churaumi Theater, Shark Research Laboratory, and perhaps the main attraction at Churaumi Aquarium which is the gigantic tank of the Kuroshio Sea are located on the second floor of the building. The Kuroshio Sea tank is ultra humongous having the volume capacity of 7,500 cubic meters housing three whale sharks and a group of manta rays. Yes, you read that right. Three whale sharks. It is the world’s first multiple whale sharks in captivity. Churaumi Aquarium is also the first to breed multiple manta rays in captivity. There is also a reconstructed model of the jaw of an extinct 16-meter long shark on display.
In addition to the Kuroshio Sea tank, there are also two spots which are most enjoyed by many – the Aqua Room and the Cafe Ocean Blue. The Aqua Room is where you can sit down under an acrylic window ceiling giving an underwater feel with the whale sharks and the manta rays swimming right in front or above your seat. The Cafe Ocean Blue offers a dining experience with a meal taken while the whale sharks and manta rays are swimming right on your side.
And in case you are wondering, the panel of the giant Kuroshio Sea tank is 603mm thick. The photo below will give you a good perspective of its thickness.
1ST FLOOR . Overwhelmed by the giants tanks on the 2nd floor, very few goes to the first floor to check the deep sea exhibits. We were exasperated too and only checked a bit before heading out of the aquarium building.
The name Churaumi Aquarium was chosen among 13,897 candidate names through a nationwide vote prior to the aquarium’s re-opening on November 1, 2002, after the aquarium had gone through a renovation. “Chura” means beautiful and “umi” means “ocean” in Japanese.
Now, do you still wonder why it is the most visited place in Okinawa?
Check on Google Street View below for an additional information and perspective on Churaumi Aquarium: