Translated by Hilary Keyes
Connected To The Water: Kyoto's Charm-filled Aquarium
Written by ayu
A 15 minute walk from JR Kyoto Station, the Kyoto Aquarium is where you can learn all about Kyoto's aquatic life in exhibits at Kyo no Kawa, Kyo no Umi, Kyo no Satoyama - twelve interesting areas in total.
At the Kyoto Aquarium there are many exhibitions unique to Kyoto that cannot be seen anywhere else. It is also the first aquarium in Japan to use wholly artificial sea water in its saltwater exhibits. Today let's take a look at some of the many charms of the Kyoto Aquarium.
A 15 Minute Walk from JR Kyoto Station, in the Municipal Park
A 15-minute walk from JR Kyoto Station will bring you to Umekoji Park, a municipal park in Kyoto, where the aquarium is located. The concept of the Kyoto Aquarium is "life connected by water".
Surrounded on three sides by mountains, the Kyoto Basin has been blessed with abundant rivers and streams as a result. Since days of old, these waterways have been treasured for the stunning scenic beauty that they provide the city.
The Kyoto Aquarium is divided into 12 different areas. In each one you can enjoy the distinct atmosphere of Kyoto, but today we would like to especially recommend three areas.
The River of Kyoto
This displays focuses on the upper stream, mid-stream, and downstream of the Yuragawa, one of the rivers in Kyoto.
This river is home to one of Japan's nationally protected species, a living fossil, and the largest amphibian in the world, the Japanese giant salamander. Thanks to the River of Kyoto exhibit, you can enjoy the authentically reproduced habitat of the giant salamander up close.
The Sea of Kyoto
This exhibit features a large aquarium tank within which creatures making up the diverse sea life around Kyoto live. One of the most noticeable sights in this tank is the school of Japanese sardines that crowd together, although seeing the rays leisurely swim about really catches your eye as well.
The Countryside of Kyoto
In the Countryside of Kyoto exhibit, visitors can view rice and heirloom vegetables from Kyoto, seasonal flowers, and other sights that make up the countryside of Kyoto.
An unusual display for an aquarium to have, the rice paddies and waterways of Kyoto are home to their own unique wildlife, and it wouldn't be an authentic depiction of the aquatic ecosystems of Kyoto without it.
Within the facility there are three cafe spaces to choose from, all of which sell light meals and desserts, many of which have aquarium themed images to them.
Penguin monaka: 310 yen each (with tax)
These penguin shaped monaka (*1) are filled with anko (red bean paste), ice cream, and other tasty ingredients.
*1 Monaka: a wafer cake filled with bean jam.
Souvenir Muddler (swizzle stick) drink: 450 yen each (with tax)
This cocktail is a soda mixed with one of four different types of fruit liqueur, and comes with a cute swizzle stick in the shape of an ocean dwelling animal.
Unbelievably Cute Kyoto Aquarium Souvenirs!
Japanese Giant Salamander Stuffed Toys
There are five sizes to choose from when it comes to this stuffed toy: small (20cm) all the way up to XXL (about 170cm).
Ocean Animal Erasers
These mini erasers come in the shape of both ocean and river dwelling creatures. They come in a small bottle and cost 432 yen (with tax).
These cute Aquarium Wa Sweets are special treats made from nerikiri (*2), and come in 8 shapes based on different aquarium creatures.
Pricing: 1 costs 210 yen, a set of 8 costs 1680 yen (with tax)
*2 Nerikiri: a Japanese sweet like a daifuku, made from fresh bean paste.
Advance Tickets and Discount Tickets
If you purchase your tickets in advance, you won't have to worry about waiting in line, which is very convenient. These can be bought at the Kyoto Tourist Information Center (Kyo Navi) and at Seven Eleven convenience stores nationwide.
If you have a Kyoto city transportation pass, or have visited the Kyoto Railway Museum, you can get a discount on your admission to the Kyoto Aquarium, so don't miss out on this opportunity.
- If you bring your Kyoto Bus One-Day Pass, Kyoto City Subway One-day Pass, Kyoto Sightseeing One or Two-day Pass, or your Kyoto Sightseeing One-day Pass (Yamashina-Daigo Area included) to the Kyoto Aquarium ticket counter, you will receive a ten percent discount on your admission.
- Mutual discount by visiting both the Kyoto Aquarium and the Kyoto Railway Museum. If you visit both facilities within a month, admission to the second place that you go to will be discounted by ten percent. To learn more about the Kyoto Railway Museum, which is only a three minute walk from the aquarium, please see this article.
Fantastic Even At Night
From sunset until closing, the front of the Kyoto Aquarium is illuminated with displays of water and animals, and the fantasy-like atmosphere that this creates means the aquarium is also a popular date spot too. Please note however that the illuminations and times are subject to change.
An Aquarium That'll Make You Love Kyoto More
While also home to the ever popular dolphins and seals, the Kyoto Aquarium is also the ideal place to see the natural interconnections between nature and water that make up the Kyoto area itself. Come to the Kyoto Aquarium to learn about a side of Kyoto that you cannot see through sightseeing alone!