Indoor aquarium in center-city Tokyo offers exhilarating rides, leaping dolphins
Stars and Stripes May 18, 2023
During a recent weekend getaway in central Tokyo, my family and I landed at an aquarium near Shinagawa Station.
Maxell Aqua Park Shinagawa – open since 2005 and formerly called Epson Aqua Park – is a large aquarium and animal exhibit within the sprawling Prince Hotel complex.
It boasts more than 18,000 animals, with about 450 species represented there. They include reptiles, amphibians, mammals and a multitude of fish and other sea creatures.
The tunnel entrance leads visitors to ticket windows and automated ticket kiosks that produce QR-coded tickets for 2,300 yen, or $17, for adults and 1,200 yen for children.
Eleven attraction areas are spread out inside the building with four on the first floor and seven on the second. No flash photography is allowed.
The first-floor attractions begin with an immersive display of multicolored sea life and patterns moving along the walls and floors, along with fish-filled tanks.
This experience is enhanced by harmonious music playing over the sound system. On the same floor, two rides await, Dolphin Party Merry-Go-Round and another cool ride not far from it, the Port of Pirates.
With a crowd looking on, we were the only riders on the giant pirate ship that swings like a pendulum high into the air. The ride was brief but exhilarating and more than enough to give us a tickle.
Jellyfish Ramble, the fourth attraction area, has tanks filled with jellyfish of all sizes illuminated by an array of colored lights, making it a fantastic walk-through experience and photo opportunity. With the selection of music and lighting, some sea critters, such as the moon jellyfish, seem to move in synchronization.
Moving to the second floor, the Wonder Tube at the sixth station allows a surrounding view of fish swimming overhead and around you. Lots of unusual creatures cohabit the massive tank, including several species of sharks like the blacktip reef shark.
The crowd that day made moving from one attraction to another difficult at times, but we made sure to visit each spot.
The regularly scheduled dolphin shows attracted a multitude of spectators. Times for the shows are displayed at the information desk on that floor.
Before the show, a few species of dolphins swam freely in the giant tank between the packed audience. We saw the Naked Snow Aquarium, a winter theme. Another show, Naked Sakura Aquarium, took over in March.
The waterworks displayed during the show gave a sense of snow and ice as dolphins performed on cue. After whizzing through the water at extraordinary speeds, each dolphin leapt several feet into the air to the excitement of the crowd. Trainers were lifted in the air or pushed around the tank by the energetic dolphins.
Maxell Aqua Park is an exciting place to put on the list of things to do. Whether you go and enjoy it alone or with family or friends, it was time well spent.
On the QT
Directions: A short walk from Shinagawa Station in central Tokyo; take the Takanawa Exit.
Times: Open daily, 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., except for Saturdays and holidays, when they stay open until 8 p.m.
Costs: 2,300 yen, adults; 1,200 yen, elementary and junior high school students; 700 yen, 4 years and older; free for infants.
Food: The first-floor Coral Café Bar serves snacks and drinks; food is also available at the stadium shop and from vending machines near the dolphin exhibit.
Information: 03-5421-1111; www.aqua-park.jp/en/aqua/index.html