On one of the islands in the Aji River of Osaka near Universal Studios Japan is one of the world’s largest aquariums. The Pacific Ocean tank is the largest, filled with 5,400 tons of water that can be found towards the center of the aquarium. It houses two whale sharks, hammer head sharks, mackerel, sting rays and so many more that call the 9 meters (~29ft) by 34 meters (~111.5 ft) tank home.
The museum is 8 floors which gives you plenty of opportunity to view the Pacific Ocean tank as the path leads you in a spiral around it. I suggest taking your time and if you see a seat near the big tank grab it and just watch the mammoth whale sharks swim past, and the mackerel scream together.
One of the temporary exhibits is called “the face” which is an exhibit about fish that have weird faces which is fun to see.
There are all sorts of creatures to visit, from cute otters, seals, dolphins, penguins and capybara’s to some that are a bit creepy like giant isopods to the tiny sea angels.
On the fourth floor is the mermaid coffee shop. The offer a variety of snacks like long hot dogs, normal hot dogs, soft pretzel hot dogs, fishcake sandwiches, lattes with whale shark art in the foam, seaweed salt soda with jellyfish jelly or without, beer, ramune ice cream, matcha ice cream and vanilla ice cream. (As well as normal drinks like water, lattes, matcha, coffee, tea, juice, and sodas) Food in the mermaid coffee shop is only allowed in the cafe and there’s not a lot of space. I ordered their ramune vanilla swirl ice cream which they’ve nicknamed Whale shark ice cream (400 ¥).
It’s cute looking, covered in little hard candies but there was no place for me to sit. I ended up standing against the wall trying to be out of the way of families and unable to go anywhere which isn’t fun. What I suggest you do is near the exit there’s a starbucks and next to the Starbucks is a little cafe selling the exact same thing. You can buy your ice cream and walk around the harbor with it or find any sort of seating nearby. There’s also tons of restaurants outside. So skip the cafe inside the aquarium.
Near the end of the aquarium is the Maldives or the touch pool where, after rinsing off your hands with water (no soap) you can gently touch some sharks and rays. There’s tons of signs on how to properly and safely touch them. Be patient, some of them get a bit fed up with it and will swim off to the middle of the tank so you can’t touch them. Also there is a nice bathroom nearby with soap and a hand dryer after your done touching the rays and sharks.
The aquarium also has two gift shops that sell different things. The one before you exit (you can get a stamp so you can return, just ask the workers near the exit) is a bit smaller and more cramped, selling plush animals, stationary and souvenirs while the one on the lower floor is a lot bigger and sells different plush animals, toys, home goods and more.
The aquarium is wheelchair accessible with wheelchair specific spots for viewing the tanks and the entirety of the path is a ramp. There are also coin lockers where you can leave your stuff and stamps throughout the exhibit if you want to try and collect them all. The aquarium is located at the Tempozan Harbor Village, easiest to get to by following the signs from Osakako station and heading towards the Ferris Wheel. The aquarium is usually open from 10am until 8pm and tickets for adults are 2,300 yen. Though there is the option of doing a package with the other local attractions which may save some money over all. You can visit Legoland Discovery Center, the Tempozan Giant Ferrish Wheel or go for a ride on the Santa Maria sightseeing sailing ship or take shuttle boat “Captain Line” to the Universal City Port which is somewhat near Universal Studios Japan across the river.