NIPPONIA No. 42 September 15, 2007


Special Featuresp_star.gifOkinawa’s Beautiful Sea

Underwater Adventures at the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium

A blue world of mystery awaits in an enormous tank, ready to captivate you with its beauty and excitement. We invite you to experience Okinawa’s underwater glory on this aquarium tour.

Written by Sanada Kuniko  Photos by Sugawara Chiyoshi


Whale sharks and manta rays glide past in the Kuroshio Seas tank.

Whale shark monument at the entrance to the aquarium.

The Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium opened in 2002 at Ocean Expo Park, replacing another aquarium at the site of Expo 75. It is located on the Motobu Peninsula in the northwest part of the main island of Okinawa. The aquarium, about a 5-minute walk into the park, is built on a slope of land facing the East China Sea, with Ie-jima Island off in the distance. The floors are slightly staggered to give a step-down effect.

The aquarium’s goal is to highlight different aspects of the sea around Okinawa. It does this in three major zones: (1) Coral Reef, a shallow world; (2) Kuroshio Current, where warm waters from the south create a rich environment for marine life; and (3) Deep Sea, the mysterious depths lurking off Okinawa. Life forms in each zone are remarkably distinct from one another.

You enter from the 3rd floor and go down from there, deeper and deeper into the sea, passing from a shallow world of corals and tropical fish to a place washed by the Kuroshio Current, and then finally to an awe-inspiring place far below the ocean surface.