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“Delightful Half-day trip” 4 of 5 bubbles
Review of Otaru Aquarium

Otaru Aquarium
Ranked #5 of 144 things to do in Otaru
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Level Contributor
135 reviews
76 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 73 helpful votes
“Delightful Half-day trip”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 8 June 2013

Getting to the Aquarium is an easy trip using the local bus from the bus-station - the Aquarium being the terminus, and it is interesting to see residential rather than tourist areas along the route. (The Otaru tourist map/info gives great information about use of local bus, etc. - make sure you pick one up, either from your hotel or from the Tourist Info Centre down by the canal.) It is a small aquarium, but well maintained and a pleasure to walk around, and it schedules some good demonstrations/shows. It is a steep walk down to sea-level pools, but with an escalator to get you back up to the main exhibit area. Lovely views across the bay and town. (If mobility is a problem for you, you need to be aware of a lot of steps up to the aquarium (or a fairly steep slope) from the bus stop.

Visited May 2013
3 Thank taffandhubby
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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254 reviews from our community

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English first
Level Contributor
38 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
“Had a really fun half day here!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 3 June 2013

The aquarium had a special display of deep sea creatures when I visited and it was so amazing! It is definitely a better choice to visit than the musical box or glass-making shops.

It is quite a small place but there are many exhibits here and it would make a really entertaining half day especially if you have children in the trip. There are so many activities to do such as watching the caretakers feed the dolphins, and shows by the marine mammals. Do catch the Seals show, there is an extremely big and funny one.

There is a bus available from the Otaru bus terminal and it is only 25mins away. Plus you can catch some spectacular views of Otaru from the grounds of the aquarium.

Visited May 2013
1 Thank chryssy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Kaunakakai, Hawaii
Level Contributor
14 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 52 helpful votes
“A side trip”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 15 August 2012

An added attraction when visiting the seaport town of Otaru is the Otaru Aquarium. There are several ways of getting there from Otaru, the easiest being a 30-minute public bus ride from the Chuo Bus Otaru Terminal conveniently located in the heart of the town. Certainly a more convenient, albeit expensive, option is to hire one of the numerous taxicabs that abound in Otaru Town. More adventurous souls might want to choose a sightseeing boat that skirts the scenic coastline for the 4-mile trip, but this will require additional walking to and from both terminals. Visitors have reported walking the distance from town to the aquarium, but in our opinion this is neither for the feeble nor faint of heart.

The Otaru Aquarium composes of four distinct attractions, all of them accessible after paying a single entrance fee. Finned fish and sea turtles are tanked in the “Main Building” that has attached to it the “Dolphin Stadium”, the venue for performing cetaceans. A paved walkway will lead you to the “Maine Mammal Park” which is a large compound exhibiting various cold-water species such as Gentoo and Humboldt penguins, ringed and ribbon seals, and walruses. And if all of this is still not enough, you can walk over to the “Amusement Park” for bumper cars and Ferris wheel rides for nominal fees.

All in all, we found the Otaru Aquarium entertaining and worthy of the time and effort we took to visit it. It appears to be very popular with local visitors as evidence by the scores of students we encountered there. While being touted as being one of the major attractions in all of Hokkaido, don’t expect Otaru to be another Osaka Aquarium. However, most fish lovers should find the Otaru Aquarium a welcome sight as it contains several fish species not likely to be encountered anywhere else in the world. Moreover, sight seeing visitors will find a worthy bonus prize in the nearby and magnificent Nishin Goten (Herring Mansion). Additionally, along the main street to the aquarium and mansion you will find several vendors selling grilled herrings, a delightful local treat. However if you’re pressed for time and are a primarily shopping fiend or foodie, then I would suggest limiting your stay to Otaru Town.

Visited July 2012
4 Thank Bill60641
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Vladivostok, Russia
Level Contributor
120 reviews
58 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 98 helpful votes
“A cape of goodness”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 6 February 2012

Otaru Aquarium is located at the cape in suburb of city. It takes 20 minutes to reach Aquarium by bus from city terminal. Bu we preferred to walk along the coast. It is wonderful way. There are many small fishermen villages and homely restaurants. Two short parts of the way are not comfortable only: we had to pass through tunnels. But mostly the way is pleasant and attractive. We did not regret that walked.
Aquarium is big enough. It is popular place among th Otaru citizens and people from other parts of Hokkaido. Especially we liked to feed marine animals in the pools built in the sea. Many school children spend a lot of time "talking" with various big and little marine animals. Seals, penguins and other animals share their warmness with people. It is real lesson of goodness! I recommend everyone who comes to Otaru to visit Aquarium.

Visited July 2011
5 Thank Oleg S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Tokyo, Japan
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Lovable old-school aquarium”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 11 November 2011

In short, you may be disappointed if you're expecting a jaw-dropping, Chura-umi Aquarium-type experience when visiting the antiquated, Otaru Aquarium. From the dolphin shows to the carboard cutout of a crudely-painted seal where you can stick your head for a photo-op, this place has the quaint, nostalgia-laced qualities of a mom-n-pop corner shop that time has somehow forgotten. Certain people may be put off by this home made and amateurish feel, but I found the kitchy, quirky and quaint aquarium, set against the spectacular scenery of the northern seas, very charming. Added bonus are the outdoor rides from yesteryear that you swear haven't changed for over 30 years.

Visited October 2011
2 Thank soily74
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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