Monday, January 27, 2020

Enoshima Aquarium - Visit a Tokyo date spot straight out of Japanese TV, and see the jellyfish while you're at it!

Just a little outside Tokyo, and nestled beside the prime daytrip location of Enoshima Island, Enoshima Aquarium (新江ノ島水族館) is famous for its fantastic jellyfish displays. This is probably why it's such a beloved destination for dates on Japanese TV - you'll see Enoshima Aquarium featured in 2010 j-drama Nagareboshi, and the Netflix anime (turns drama and movie) Princess Jellyfish. But this TV setting is very real, and it makes just as romantic of a date spot in real life as it does on TV. Take a special someone, or a group of friends, to check out the aquarium's gorgeous exhibits featuring local wildlife, sea turtle projects, and long history of jellyfish specialization.

That Enoshima Aquarium jellyfish specialization actually comes from over 60 years of research, and the facility has consistently been on the cutting edge of jellyfish keeping technology - now used all over the world. And you can see that they’re still a forward looking institution, developing their own multilingual aquarium guide app!

Enoshima Aquarium

Right on the water of Sagami Bay, the Enoshima Aquarium is steps away from the beachfront, just minutes from Enoshima Island, and across the water from Mt. Fuji. When the weather’s nice, Japan’s most famous mountain becomes an amazing backdrop for the aquarium’s dolphin shows!

And it’s an easy trip from Tokyo. Take a JR train to Fujisawa Station, transfer to the Odakyu line, and Katase-Enoshima Station is just 3 minutes from Enoshima Aquarium. Or combine it with a trip to Kamakura, and walk over from Enoshima Station on the Enoden line.

Enoshima Aquarium
2-19-1 Katasekaigan, Fujisawa, Kanagawa
Access | Odakyu Katase-Enoshima Station, Enoden Enoshima Station, Shonan-Enoshima Station
Hours | Mar ~ Nov: 9:00 - 17:00 / Dec ~ Feb: 10:00 - 17:00
(final entry ~16:00, hours subject to change)
Admission* | Adults: 2,400 yen / High Schoolers: 1,500 yen
Middle & Elementary Schoolers: 1,000 yen / Children 3+: 600 yen
Official Website (en) / (jp)

(*Prices as of date of publication.)

Featuring everything from local Sagami Bay wildlife to lovely jellyfish (of course), the aquarium is split into 14 different areas.

The Sagami Bay Zone 

Ever looked out at the ocean and wondered what might be looking back at you? Well, the enormous tank of Enoshima Aquarium’s Sagami Bay Zone might give you some idea! After looking at the beach outside, head into the aquarium to see what’s hiding in those opaque waters. The  main tank here houses 100 different varieties of sea life, and a total of 20,000 individual creatures! They try to avoid having some of the animals eat the others on display using careful feeding schedules, but otherwise the aquarium works hard to create habitats that mimic the natural bay outside. Open waters, sandy hideaways, rocky enclaves, there’s a comfortable place for all the fish in this bay.

We were kind of wowed by the nearly 8,000 individual sardines, whose silvery bodies glinted in the light. Apparently the bay is a hotspot for sardine fishing in Japan!

Jellyfish Fantasy Hall

Want to see the results of all the hard work going on behind the scenes, by all the jellyfish researchers at Enoshima Aquarium? The Jellyfish Fantasy Hall is a round room with huge jellyfish enclosures on all sides. Walking in, surrounded by jellies in every direction and projection mapping on the walls, it does seem a little like a fantasy world.

Fourteen different varieties of jellyfish happily wile away the day in this spectacular jellyfish exhibit, each happy with their own very specific tank conditions. Check the schedule and you can time your time in the exhibit to catch one of the special projection mapping shows, talking about the ancient history of animals in the Sagami Bay. Take a seat and let yourself relax for a moment in the peaceful setting.

Sea Turtle Beach

Every summer, sea turtles from around the North Pacific arrive in Japan to find their one and only egg-laying ground on the shores of Sagami Bay. We’ve all heard stories of these turtles facing troubles of all kinds, but Enoshima Aquarium has teamed up with concerned local residents to try to learn more about the turtles, and help them thrive in the area. Aside from the obvious first steps of beach cleanings and protections for the different species, spearheaded by the aquarium, they’ve also created an imitation beach inside the aquarium itself, to work on sustainability-focused research on a small population.

Watch the graceful animals take leisurely laps around the pool, or snag a ticket for the Sea Turtle Touch program on weekends and holidays. Up to 20 people can feed them a little snack and rub the turtles’ backs, for 500 yen each (as of date of publication).

Dolphin Show Stadium

We don’t want our dolphins getting bored in the aquarium, do we? A highlight of your visit to Enoshima Aquarium might just be a dolphin show, where human performers train with the dolphins to keep them occupied and show everybody just what they can do.

The Many Shows of Enoshima Aquarium

The shows at Enoshima Aquarium aren’t limited to dolphins, but the two different varieties of dolphin performances are fan favorites. Check out the schedule (in Japanese) for an idea of when you can catch them both.

Kizuna: A chance to ponder how dolphins and sea lions think and feel with their trainers, while watching them pull off some fantastic stunts.
Location: Dolphin Show Stadium
Show Length: 20 min
Times: 4x a day on weekdays, 2x on weekends

Dolferia: A novel show in the world of aquariums, dancers both human and dolphin work together to create an exciting spectacle.
Location: Dolphin Show Stadium
Show Length: 20 min
Times: 2x a day on weekends & holidays

Penguiiin!: Meet the penguins of Enoshima! And learn a little about some of their unique personalities.
Location: Penguins and Seals Area
Show Length: 15 min
Times: 2x a day most days, 3x on holidays

Kurage no Sora: Literally “jellyfish sky,” learn a little about Sagami Bay, or just watch the projected displays and the contently floating jellies.
Location: Jellyfish Fantasy Hall
Show Length: 10 min
Times: 5x a day

Fins: Check out live footage taken from inside the Sagami Bay tank, giving you an up close view that feels like you might be right in the bay yourself.
Location: Sagami Bay Zone
Show Length: 20 min
Times: 1x a day on weekdays, 2x on weekends

Try Some Cute Aquarium Eats!

Between the Ocean Cafe, the Stadium Cafe eight inside the dolphin stadium, and the Shonan Cafe, there are plenty of places to stop into when your stomach starts to growl mid-way through your aquarium tour.

We recommend these cute sesame-flavored soft serve cones. Not sure how they’re aquarium-themed? Japanese speakers will probably understand - they’re supposed to look like spotted seals! In Japan, people think the spotted seal coats look so much like sesame seeds that they’re literally called “sesame seals,” or goma-azarashi (ごめアザラシ)! Grab some at the Ocean Cafe, 370 yen for take out or 377 if you eat in (as of date of publication).

This melon bread shouldn’t need as much explanation, right? No matter what language you speak, these sweet little breads are clearly sea turtle-shaped. Original melon-pan flavor, strawberry, or matcha, these three are also available at the Ocean Cafe for 260 take out, 265 eat in (as of date of publication).

Don’t Forget Souvenirs!

Japan sure knows how to make adorable souvenirs - snacks, tchotchkes, t-shirts, and toys of all kinds, they’re all pretty tempting (and of course that’s the case here, too)! We were also tempted by the selection of Enoshima-themed souvenirs, snacks made with local ingredients and flavors.

If you’re having a lucky day, go for a lottery-style souvenir: for a flat fee, you draw an instant lottery to win anything from cute little keychains to giant stuffed sea creatures!

Already thinking about a day or weekend trip away from Tokyo? The neighboring areas of Kamakura and Enoshima have long been favorite destinations for many reasons, and adding a visit to the Enoshima Aquarium makes the plan foolproof! Learn more about exploring the area, the best foods to try and look for in the aquarium gift shop, and even the cats you might see wandering on Enoshima Island, then tell us all about your plans (or your last trip over!) on twitterinstagram, and facebook!



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