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Kyoto Aquarium

Get the lowdown on Kyoto's waterways.

Although it’s perhaps not the cultural highlight you had in mind to visit in Japan’s ancient capital, Kyoto Aquarium can teach you a thing or two about water life in Kyoto’s rivers, ocean and rice paddies. It’s also a good place to chill out if you’re tired of temples, get rained out or have kids in tow.

Photo by: nachans A perfect place if the weather isn’t so great.

The admission fee includes a dolphin show and the amusing penguin-feeding session, both of which are held at least twice a day. Four bottle-nosed dolphins lead an upbeat 25-minute performance that shares some of the noises they can make, including the sound of their heartbeat. During feeding time you can see the personalities of some of the little Cape Penguins who – as the staff take care to feed each one its due number of fish – try to steal some from their friends.

Photo by: Satski Kawano Kyoto Aquarium penguins.

All feeding sessions last about 20 minutes, including the one in the big tank, which holds 500 tons of water and replicates the coastal waters of Kyoto. Let your stress slide off as you watch about 50 types of sea creatures and 11,000 fish swim past you drenched in a beautiful otherworldly blue light. Along with a school of about 10,000 sardines, a shark and some stingrays, included here are two species key to Kyoto cuisine, the horse-head fish and the conger eel. Keep an ear out for the quintessential Japanese fish-viewing phrase “oishii-sou” – looks delicious!

Keep an ear out for the quintessential Japanese fish-viewing phrase “oishii-sou” – looks delicious!

Another good place to take it easy is the outdoor area that depicts the Kyoto countryside with terraced fields of rice and other crops of local produce, like Kujo leek. Watch some beautiful black carp swim around the resthouse here.

Photo by: Kirsty Kawano The outside area has some fresh air to offer!

Bliss out further on the hypnotic moves of jellyfish of various shapes and colors, catch some crustaceans, or watch fur seal shoot past you in their glass-walled pen. For an extra ¥500, you can get your photo taken one-on-one with a dolphin, fur seal or penguin.

You can also get a hit of popular culture at the aquarium’s event space. The exhibits here change regularly but have included photo opportunities with cardboard cutouts of Sanrio’s Cinnamoroll cartoon character. Just what you need to round out your Kyoto experience!

There is a snack stall on the first floor, but the better option for lunch here is the café on the second floor. You can also bring food in from outside or get a pass-out.

Things To Know

Hours and fees

Open every day from 10 a.m to 6 p.m. with last admission at 5 p.m., although this schedule may change during vacation season. Admission costs ¥2,050 for adults, ¥1,550 for high school students (aged 16-18), ¥1,000 for children 6-15 years old and ¥600 for kids aged 3-5.

More details

Kyoto Aquarium (http://www.kyoto-aquarium.com/en) is located in Umenokoji Park, which is an easy walk from Kyoto station. Also in the park are the Kyoto Railway Museum (http://www.kyotorailwaymuseum.jp/en) and the Kyo-yasai Restaurant which features dishes using some vegetables unique to Kyoto. Your aquarium ticket butt will get you a 10% discount on the entrance to the railway museum.

How To Get There


600-8835, Japan

By train

It takes 15 minutes to walk to the aquarium either from Kyoto station’s central exit or from Tambaguchi station on the JR Sanin line.

By bus

From Kyoto station it’s about an 8-minute bus ride on routes 205, 206, 208, 103,104,110, 86, 88, 33 and toku 33. Get off at the Nanajo-Omiya, Kyoto Suizokukan-mae stop.

Where To Stay

Umekoji Potel Kyoto
  • 15 Kankijicho, Kyoto-shi Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto, 600-8835 Japan
  • ¥17,425 - ¥85,000
  • 4.46/5 (449 reviews)
  • 0.2 km
Kyoto Umekoji Kadensho (Kyoritsu Resorts)
  • 41-10 Sujaku Uchihatacho, Kyoto-shi Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto, 600-8843 Japan
  • ¥21,470 - ¥85,196
  • 4.48/5 (391 reviews)
  • 0.2 km
Mibu-Juku Shichijo-Umekoji
  • 2 Nishisuyacho, Kyoto-shi Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto, 600-8833 Japan
  • ¥16,830 - ¥111,738
  • 4.43/5 (33 reviews)
  • 0.3 km
Satoi Kosetsu Shichijo-Mibu
  • 2 Nishisuyacho, Kyoto-shi Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto, 600-8833 Japan
  • ¥55,869 - ¥155,298
  • 4.67/5 (112 reviews)
  • 0.3 km
Kyoiroriyado Sen Shichijo-Mibu
  • 10-8 Nishisuyacho, Kyoto-shi Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto, 600-8833 Japan
  • ¥48,609 - ¥114,158
  • 4.75/5 (44 reviews)
  • 0.3 km

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