You might expect a coastal city to have a superb aquarium. Kagoshima City Aquarium fits this bill admirably, and provides a great experience for the whole family. The aquarium makes a great addition to a trip to Sakurajima, as it is located steps away from the ferry terminal. The area is also served by Kagoshima City's tram and bus lines. There is a decent amount of parking available as well, with the first hour being free.
Visitors to the aquarium are immediately drawn into the experience by stepping in front of the massive floor to ceiling Kuroshio Great Water Tank right after they enter. This approximately 1,360,000 liter tank focuses on the Kuroshio current; the current that runs off of Japan's eastern coast and is essential for supporting a wide variety of marine life. A large whale shark, graceful manta rays, and shiny tuna all glide right in front of your face. As you exit the large tank room, you walk right under these magnificent creatures, as the tank curves over your head.
Kagoshima City to takes particular pride in its marine life, and the aquarium features many species that are indigenous to the local area. Those familiar with the southern port towns such as Makurazaki will recognize the shiny tuna (katsuo) in the huge 1st floor tank, for example. Perhaps the most intriguing residents are the taka-ashi (lit. tall leg) crabs, whose leg spans can reach nearly 4 meters! These somewhat fierce looking, yet serene animals are prevalent in the warmer waters between Kagoshima Bay and Tokyo Bay. Jellyfish, eel and and squid are other creatures you can learn about through exhibits that are translated into English.
There are also educational presentations with trainers and aquarium staff on hand to answer your questions. Visitors can watch otters and eels being fed, as well as a great dolphin show. All these shows are included in the price of admission. The third floor is dedicated to special exhibitions. Past exhibitions have featured poisonous species and information about Kagoshima's unique fisheries industry. Continuing on the theme of interaction, there is a also a touch pool situated next to the aquarium building. Visitors have the chance to see what urchins, starfish, and other docile creatures really feel and look like up close. This is an experience sure to stick with everyone and provide bragging rights for youngsters.
Kagoshima Aquarium provides and engaging and fascinating look at the marine life that plays such a crucial role to Japan today.