Chasing Planes Day 7: My Happy Place

I've had a particularly harrowing day at work today, so I thought it would be a good idea to blog about the one place in Japan that is guaranteed to make me happy: Sea Paradise.

I've been here thrice, and I have yet to grow tired of it. But then again even aquariums in pet shops can keep me sufficiently occupied. Sea Paradise, however, remains to be the best I've seen so far, both in terms of the variety of aquatic life and the overall ambiance (Kaiyukan in Osaka is a distant second, and only because of the whale sharks).

Words to live by

It's located at the tip of Yokohama bay (nearest train station: Hakkeijima), a little more than an hour from Tokyo by train. And it's technically an amusement park with an aquarium. The entrance to the park itself is free; you only have to pay for each of the attractions as you go (or you can also get a day pass if you wish to avail of everything). There are several rides, with the most popular being the Blue Fall, also known as the fastest way to blow a thousand yen. Essentially you just free-fall from a hundred meters up.

The main aquarium is called the Aqua Museum, which has, among other things, a three-story tank with several large sharks and hundreds of schooling fish.

Large tanks are not necessarily more interesting (case in point: Sentosa aquarium which is a giant display of meh), but this one is very well-designed. I have absolutely no doubt that I can happily spend an entire day in front of this panel (as long as I have food, though). There is just something so wonderfully hypnotic about schooling fish, especially with the presence of predators that force them to break formation and regroup from time to time. If money were no object I would replicate this tank in my living room. Who needs a TV?

The Aqua Museum is also home to a ginormous walrus,

lots of penguins,

a (very emo) polar bear,

moray eels and their catfish friend,

and the occasional human :p

He was in the same tank as the sharks and I'm not gonna lie, there was a twinge of disappointment when they ignored him instead of, err, attacking.

And here you can observe the progress of my blossoming relationship with the resident turtle.

2014: Besties!
Bonus pic, because lookie my lashes!

There is also a dolphin (and friends) show in the Aqua Stadium at the top-most floor which is a must-see. Because belugas. Dancing belugas.

During my last two visits they kept a (newly-acquired) whale shark in the same pool where the show is held, which is a bit of a shame because a fish that pretty shouldn't serve as a mere backdrop, so hopefully she gets moved into her own tank soon.

If you want to get up close and personal with the belugas (because who doesn't?), there is this other area called the Fureai Lagoon, where you can spend forever a few minutes hanging out beside their pens and with any luck, you might get to touch them as they skim the surface. It can, admittedly, be frustrating, especially when you see the belugas looking up at you from ten feet below, you with the outstretched hands and crazy eyes, and them with that smirk they always have (haha, can't reach). But during my last visit it only took five minutes, and I was the only one who got to touch the beluga out of all the people beside the pool, which I took as a sign of our true and unending friendship. That or he smelled my desperation. Of course you can also shell out a couple thousand yen and have an actual encounter with feeding sessions and such, but the requirements include swimming skills and fluency in the Japanese language. Ah well, outstretched hands it is.

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