Oita Marine Palace (Umitamago) Aquarium
Come learn about marine life through sight and touch at Umitamago Aquarium!By Elizabeth Sok
Located a short car or bus ride from the center of Oita City in Oita Prefecture, this aquarium offers a memorable experience set against the beautiful backdrop of Beppu Bay. Oita Marine Palace Aquarium or Umitamago Aquarium houses a wide variety of sea creatures on two floors and an external beach area.
Inside the Aquarium
On the first floor, visitors will find a Tropical Zone containing a large coral tank and a dolphin pool, as well as a Frigid Zone that walruses, seals and sea lions call home. In the Science Zone, you can watch and participate in experiments that revolve around marine life. Head upstairs to check out the River Zone where visitors can learn more about life in Oita’s waters, and the Touching Zone for the unique experience of petting live sea creatures. Finally, stretching across both floors is the Ocean Zone’s massive cylindrical tank which recreates the diversity of the ocean.
Peek in at different levels to catch a unique glimpse of sea life each time! The latest addition to the aquarium is Asobichi, a Japanese play on words that combine the words for play and beach.
Getting off your feet
If you need to relax, be sure to check out one of the two restaurants that the aquarium has to offer. On the first floor, stop at Umitama Cafe for Japanese curry and rice, several kinds of pasta and ice cream.
Fanfare, located on the second floor, offers aquarium-only foods, like the umitama ramen, as well as kids’ menus and baby chairs so that visitors of all ages can enjoy a meal or snack.
Scheduled twice a day at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., the dolphin show delights viewers with its carefully choreographed routines just meters away from the aquarium building. There are three feeding times a day at 9:30 a.m., noon and 3:40 p.m. where you can also see the fish chow down.
If you catch the first and last feedings, you’ll be treated to a narrated version so you can learn as you watch. The Umitama performances take place at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. and showcase the personalities of the marine life that take center stage.
The walruses tend to be the most popular attraction as their comedy routines draw big crowds. Stick around and get a chance to pet these giant beasts.