Tempozan Harbor Village
From sky-high to deep-sea at this popular theme park/entertainment complex.
The Osaka Bay Area is a collection of of man-made islands and peninsulas that were built to accommodate Osaka’s rapidly growing urban area. Tempozan Harbor Village is a major feature of the area, where tourists and locals alike enjoy the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, one of the world’s largest aquariums, as well as the Tempozan Marketplace and ferris wheel.
The Kaiyukan is one of the largest aquariums in the world. Its main feature is a huge, nine-meter-deep tank filled with 5,400 tons of water in which you can see a variety of Pacific marine life swimming surprisingly peacefully alongside each other. This tank holds the aquarium’s main claim to fame: their gargantuan whale sharks, the largest fish species in the world.
The aquarium features marine life exclusively found in the “Ring of Fire” – the area of the Pacific Ocean in which most of the world’s earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur. There are more than 15 large tanks, and each recreates a different environment of the Pacific Rim, thereby giving visitors a glimpse into all aspects of life deep within the Pacific Ocean.
The large variety of fish and sea life – 30,000 creatures belonging to 620 species to be exact – includes seals and sea lions from Monterey Bay in California; penguins from Antarctica; capybaras from Ecuador; and dolphins from the Tasmanian Sea.
It will take most visitors about two and a half hours to see everything in the expansive aquarium, which begins on the eighth floor and ends on the fourth floor by way of a spiral ramp that gives one an impression of actually descending into the depths of the ocean.
Adjacent to the Kaiyukan is Tempozan Marketplace, a large mall with many souvenir shops, the highlight of which is Naniwa Kuishinbo Yokocho, a “food theme park.” This is made up of more than 20 small, family-friendly restaurants featuring Osakan specialities like takoyaki (octopus balls), okonomiyaki (savory pancakes), and kushikatsu (fried food on a stick) in a retro atmosphere recalling 1960s Osaka.
Just beside the aquarium and marketplace (and impossible to miss) is Tempozan Ferris Wheel. The largest in Osaka, this 112.5-meter-high ferris wheel has 60 glass-walled gondolas which can hold up to eight passengers each. During the 17-minute ride you can get a fantastic view of nearby Osaka Bay, as well as downtown Osaka and beyond. Highlights include Kobe’s Mt. Rokko and the famous Akashi Kaikyō Bridge which connects Kobe to Awaji Island. The wheel is lit up at night, often in rainbow colors, or solid colors to indicate the next day’s weather forecast -orange for sunny, blue for rainy, green for cloudy.
There are four gondolas featuring glass bottoms that were constructed in 2008 to celebrate 10 million visitors. Naturally, the wait time is longer for these. Across from the ferris wheel is Tempozan Park, featuring Japan’s smallest mountain, Mt. Tempozan, which stands just 4.53 meters above sea level.