A Visit to Osaka Aquarium -Kaiyukan (海遊館)

20130520-111233.jpgOsaka Aquarium or Kaiyukan 〔海遊館) is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Osaka and probably in the whole Japan for aquariums. It is located in Osaka bay area. This aquarium is famous for its various displays of marine life which is organized in a very impressive way.

When I was living in Beppu city (別府市), Oita prefecture (大分県), I visited an aquarium called ‘Umitamago(Umi 海 = ocean, Tamago卵 = egg). 20130520-143913.jpgThe aquarium is obviously not as big as others in the bigger cities but the fish tanks were arranged nicely and with its location on a scenic beach, the atmosphere is great. I got to shake hand with a cute seal when I was on an outdoor stadium for a show and had club sandwiches in the terrace near the beach. The entrance fee was free that day because we got two tickets from the owner of the place by chance. 😉 I had a great time. It was a lot of fun even in a small city aquarium so I had high expectations for this well-known Osaka Kaiyukan.

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Outdoor show at Umitamago

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My friend observing marine life inside Umitamago

I went to Kaiyukan with the same friend I went to Umitamago with. The difference was that we are a few years older; both have graduated and now working in a different country. Since my friend decided to visit from Korea, I was especially excited to spend the day catching up and having fun. This was actually my second time at this aquarium. The first time was 5 years ago although I could barely enjoy the place or remember much having been so sick and fainted inside the aquarium (no joke!). So this time was sort of like my first time there. It was a rainy day so we thought we could enjoy the day being inside.

We started from Osaka station and took a train to Bentencho station (弁天町). From there, we took Osaka municipal subway Chuo line (中央線) toward Cosmo square to Osakako station (大阪港 Osaka port). It took only about 18 minutes. Then, we walked to the aquarium in the rain, had some ice cream (soft cream ソフトクリーム), paid for the entrance and went in. There were tons of people inside!

20130520-111804.jpgThe exhibitions were divided according to the Pacific Rim or the Ring of fire from Japan forest to Antarctica to The Great Barrier Reef and others. There were various kinds of sea animals; dolphins, penguins, sharks and so many others we are familiar with or some that we had never heard of. With the massive amount of people, it was hard to view the animals at first but there seemed to be less people as we moved along the route. The aquarium has 8 floors which go in spiral once we move forward so we could observe marine life from many angles. The central tank is one of the main attractions. It is 9 meters deep and is visible along the route.

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I could observe so many sea animal activities; dolphins playing water polo (in their way), penguins community gathering, huge Japanese crabs showing power, jelly fish floating up and down, and so many other interesting marine life.

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Right before the exit, there is a big fish tank which contains mainly sharks and stingrays. They allow people to touch the fish in this tank with a warning of Do not touch the sharks in the head, please only touch the back. I tried…but failed. 20130520-111221.jpgI blame the announcer who kept announcing the warnings. 😛 Despite the fact that there were so many people, I did enjoy the place although I could say that 2,300 yen for the entrance is a little bit expensive. The only thing I wish they had is an outdoor show. Apparently, there are other attractions besides the exhibitions, too. There are cruises, Ferris wheel and other activities you can enjoy. This place can be really good for families with kids for a day out activity.

The most surprisingly thing that happened there was that there was a wedding inside the aquarium! We were walking along the route when we heard someone ringing the bell and shouting ‘現在海遊館の中で結婚式を行っております’ (genzai kaiyukan no nakade kekkonshiki wo okonatteorimasu) meaningThere is currently a wedding inside Kaiyukan at the moment. Then, we saw a couple wearing a suit and a wedding gown walking out with some people following behind. What a very strange place to get married but I’m sure it is something they’ll never ever forget.

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A couple having their wedding at the aquarium

Access:

Take Chuo Line and get off at Osakako (Osaka Port) station.
Approx. 12 min. from Hommachi (Midousuji line) to Osakako station.
Approx. 18 min. from Umeda (or Osaka in JR line) to Osakako station.
Approx. 35 min. from Shinosaka (Shinkansen JR line) to Osakako station.
Approx. 37 min. from Universal City (JR line) to Osakako station.
Approx. 75 min. from Kansai International Airport to Osakako station by JR line and Subway.

Operating hours: 10 am – 8 pm

Entrance fee (one time – adult): 2,300 yen

Website: http://www.kaiyukan.com/language/eng/index.htm

Discount ticket from Klook -> here! (free bonus credits when downloading their app and input this code: L2AI9)

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4 days in Taiwan (Taipei)!

I was so desperate to make an excuse to get out of the office for a couple of days. So I thought of traveling somewhere.  Some of my friends said it’s even cheaper to go to a nearby country than within Japan so I thought of Taiwan having heard that Thai citizens with a valid Japanese visa are exempted from Taiwanese visa. And I can brush up my Chinese, visit new places and EAT all the delicious food there.

I booked a package for H.I.S. – 4 days 3 nights for 30,000 yen with hotel and air tickets included. We got a super great deal. I personally would recommend H.I.S. for international travel package. We picked 自由 (ji-yuu) plan which means no tour is included and we are free to travel by ourselves. Airport pick up and sending are set up by H.I.S. which is very nice. However, with this price, we knew we couldn’t expect the hotel to be Grand Hyatt or anything fancy. The hotel turned out to be quite small but nice room in a nice area so I guess that’s more than enough. But the plane…that’s another story.

Now let’s get to the travel part!

Day 1: Tokyo -> Taipei, Ximending, Shilin night market

We left Tokyo in the morning by an airline called ‘Sccot’ スクート, a low cost airline I’ve just first heard of. My impression with this airline is NOT good at all. They plane was not very stable. It felt as if I was in a roller coaster ride for about 15 minutes when it started flying.  After everybody got to sleep, they also woke us up by ringing bells to sell ice cream.

We finally got to Taipei airport in 3 hours. There, we exchanged our money. We thought that the rate would be cheaper there but actually exchanging at Narita airport gives better rate. We exchanged only 15,000 yen for the trip.

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Our hotel is located in a shopping district Ximending- Ximen MRT station. They say it’s like Harajuku/Shibuya of Taiwan. We  walked around and ate a few things before heading to the famous Shilin night market!

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We tried a lot of food at the market and bought a lot of souvenirs. The food was great. We also found so many strange things as well.

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And the bubble milk tea, my favorite drink, is so good in Taiwan as it’s the origin of bubble milk tea.

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I have to say the MRT is very convenient and it’s quite easy to get around in Taipei. Lucky that we can also speak Chinese so that helps a lot too. If you visit Taipei, Shilin night market is a place you MUST visit. It’s full of interesting food and stuff that you don’t see very often. This picture is an example- a massage using knives at a shop called Alien study center!? It’s actually  not as scary as it looks and felt a bit good somehow.

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Day 2: Chiang Kai-Shek, Tamsui, Zhonghsan area (mall), Taipei 101

Staring off our day at Ximending since we had to get on the MRT from Ximen station. Everything was still closed at that time. But we found this amazing food on the street. I don’t know what it’s called but it’s made of flour..kind of like Roti (Indian food) and we can order eggs or pork and so many other toppings to add to it. I ordered the original one with eggs. My friend ordered a pork one. It was delicious and very cheap!

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After that we went off to Chiang Kai-Shek memorial hall (國立中正紀念堂). There, it locates a monument in the memory of Chiang Kai-Shek, former President of China.  Next to the monument is a National Theatre and National Concert Hall. The area is surrounded by a big park. We were a bit surprised to see all the teenagers gather to dance and practice their performance at the memorial square. Unfortunately, the memorial hall was under construction. But the whole area was still beautiful. The weather, however, was extremely hot. Bring a hat when you visit this place!

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After visiting Chiang Kai-Shek memorial hall, we decided to go to the last station on the red line, Tamsui (actually it is read as ‘Dan-Shui’). It took us around 40 minutes from Taipei city center. It is  located by the seaside in Northern Taipei. It is popular for Fisherman’s pier/wharf, the food, water activities, and the outdoors such as clycling.

We went straight to the market for lunch and found so many interesting food. The picter below on the left is fish balls with noodles inside and the right picture is pork…it was our lunch!  Other than this, we found interesting food and drinks such as almond drink, black eggs, and so many others. I bought some of them back to Japan. 😉

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After lunch, we headed for a walk around the beach. The sea breeze was so refreshing despite the hot weather. Many people were cycling, taking a boat ride and others. I was very impressed with this place locating close to the city and so peacefully lively at the same time.

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Even with a full stomach, you can’t go wrong with another cup of bubble milk tea. I recommend this shop with the nuber 50 in the logo. It is a franchaise all over Taiwan. There is another shop I like called Cha Time but I prefer this one more since you can personalize your own cup. You can choose from the jelly or the stuff to put inside, the size of the bubble(pearl?), then the sweetness from 10% to 100% (I personally chose 70% every time). The taste is very good. I personally like the normal size of pearls in the bubble milk tea and the grass jelly is also a very yummy one.

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After Tamsui, we went back to the city center. We wanted to rest a little since it was such a hot day so we decided to go to the big mall in Zhongshan area. This area has a feeling of Shinjuku-sanchome. We went to Mitsukoshi mall having heard that it is one of the biggest malls in town.

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Then, we headed to Taipei 101! The landmark of Taipei which is a skyscarper with a mall inside. It used to be the tallest building in the world as well. I love the exterior and interior design of the building very much. It is unique and very grand. There are many offices in the building as well.

We got there by shuttle bus from Taipei city hall station. We went to eat first. The food court in the B1 floor is AWESOME. Various choices to choose and not expensive either. We went to the restaurant on the same floor where they have dumplings and real Taiwanese/Chinese style food. The best I’ve ever had!

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Then, we went up to the observatory of Taipei 101. Waited in line about 40 minutes till we got to go up. The night view of Taipei city was beautiful. The observatory is wide and organized. We could see the whole city and how it is nicely arranged.

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We took a taxi back to our hotel in Ximen that night  since we stayed until the building closed and there was no more shuttle bus. Even around 20-30 minutes on a taxi, it only costed us 280 yuan (less than 1,000 yen).

Day 3: Longshan temple, Sun yat sen memorial hall, Taipei 101, Shida night market

Starting off very relaxing on the 3rd day because the flight on the next day was very early. We went to Carrefour supermarket to see some interesting products they sell in Taiwan. I got a lot of instant ramen, snacks, sauces and others.

I couldn’t wake up to have breakfast at the hotel so I went to a convenient store and bought Taiwanese oden. This is the bag they gave me. Reminded me of my art class when I was little.

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After a full stomach, we headed to Longshan temple but before we got there, we passed a place which is some kind of a historical center. We couldn’t read all the Chinese explanations so we only knew that the area used to be a school and an important place for ceremonies in the past..also related to the period when Japan colonized Taiwan.

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Finally, we got to Longshan temple. Again, it was very hot. We prayed and stayed for a while before another cup of bubble milk tea and lunch at Taipei 101 food court.

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After lunch at Taipei 101, we went to Sun Yat Sen memorial hall. It is a memorial hall for Dr. Sun Yat Sen, China’s national father. Inside the hall, Dr. Sun Yat Sen’s life and legacies are displayed there with an enormous monument of him similar to that of USA former president, Abraham Lincoln. There was a small ceremony for changing military officers as well.

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Outside the hall is like a square- a multi purpose ground for people to exercise, fly their kites, walk their dogs, etc. The place was lively and sort of bright.

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We could see the Taipei 101 building from this place as well. It is only a station away and it is actually within walking distance.

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Another great day in Taipei!

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Finishing off with Shida night market. I had the best pork bun (?), fried chicken and so many other food at this market. My friend also tried the smelly toufu, too. After eating like it was our last meal, we went back to the hotel and get ready for a 6 AM flight.

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The flight was too early. Maybe we should have paid a bit more for them to arrange a better flight. I would definitely do that next time.

We had a great time this trip. So glad to be able to travel again. Taiwan was great and I hope I get to go again someday.

Just FYI – Taipei MRT map

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