Maxell Aqua Park Shinagawa
Make sure you’re wearing waterproof slickers!
If you can’t get to the coast or corals, why not try the Aqua Park Shinagawa in Tokyo? Let the lava lamp loveliness of jellyfish wash over you. Experience the weird wonder tunnel vision of sharks and rays flying over your head. Get your seat early for the dolphin show and make sure you’re wearing waterproof kit! The aquarium is packed with awesome otters, sneaky seals and if you’re peckish like a penguin; tasty treats.
The Aqua Park (not to be confused with the nearby Shinagawa Aquarium) is found within the Shinagawa Prince Hotel complex and is close to the station. Arrive early, especially on weekends, holidays and rainy days. The latter days are when it pays to have your waterproof kit with you for the dolphin show. You’re guaranteed a splash or several in the first five or six rows of the stadium, as the dolphins seamlessly blend kawaii (cute) with breathtaking acrobatics. Given that the shows are obvious crowd pleasers, it’s recommended you take your seat at least 30 minutes beforehand. It may seem excessive, but it’s worth it.
A less-frantic attraction is the jellyfish ramble. These placid, pulsing creatures are housed in ever-changing luminescent tubes and tanks. Watching them undulate and bob becomes almost hypnotic. Imagine, if you will, an interstellar disco meets a ballet of slow moving bubbles. It’s an oddly soothing effect, especially if you’ve encountered the queues for the venue.
From chilled to the more chilling creatures, the Wonder Tube is akin to walking through an oceanic environment without all the hassles of donning diving gear. You’ll see sharks, rays, sawfish and other denizens of the deep. You might even wonder just how reinforced that glass is. The answer is: very. And the views are still startlingly clear.
Tropical fish such as perennial Pixar favorites, clownfish and blue tangs can be found in the little paradise section. Expect lots of folks here, with faces pressed to the glass to see the real-life Nemos and Dorys! If that’s not up your alley, Wild Street will introduce you to the otters, seals and penguins — another popular attraction where the squeals of the animals are often matched by the sounds of sheer delight from the audience. The penguins even have their own turn in the spotlight, marching about and taking a tumble. Especially at feeding time.
The aquarium also has interactive touch screens where you can learn more about its inhabitants and a coral café bar to complement your thirst for knowledge. If that doesn’t make the head spin, a trip on the merry-go-round or pirate ship should suffice for the kids.