When traveling abroad with kids, being outside for long hours on hot days or rainy days is no fun at all! Let us tell you about an indoor spot your whole family can enjoy, the Kyoto Aquarium!
We will also tell you about some seasonal spots which only local families know about.
The Charm of the Kyoto Aquarium
Kyoto Aquarium is just a 15-minute walk from Kyoto Station and is located within Umekoji Park. It is one of Japan’s largest inland aquariums. As it only opened in 2012, it still feels and looks quite new. Kyoto has many rivers, like the Kamo River, around it. Because of that, at the Kyoto Aquarium, you can find not only sea creatures but also many freshwater creatures exhibits as well, making it a unique aquarium. Even taking your time, you can see the entire aquarium in about 2 hours, so it is perfect for visiting with kids!
Also, at the Kyoto Aquarium, there are many seasonal events for kids to enjoy! I recently participated in an event called “Penguins Gather!
Usually, the aquarium closes at 6 pm, but in the summer it is sometimes open until 8 pm (Please check the date on the website). The aquarium at night has a whimsical feeling and you can see the animals in a different state than you would see during the day. There are also special illuminations and music which can only be seen or heard at night. You should enjoy this special experience with your kids.
Recommended Spots When Visiting Kyoto Aquarium with Kids
These spots are guaranteed to please any child!
So Many Giant Salamanders!
Just after entering you will see a zone called “The River of Kyoto” which has many giant salamanders on display. Giant salamanders, sometimes called “living fossils,” are rare creatures and have been named as a National Natural Treasure. Kids may be a little surprised when seeing them for the first time. They are nocturnal creatures, so they are usually seen huddling together and not moving much. You might even say you are lucky if you get to see them moving! Kyoto Aquarium is the only place you can see such a large number of giant salamanders.
Too Cute To Eat! Aquarium Sweets
You can enjoy many different treats within Kyoto Aquarium.
Melon bread in the shape of a turtle is sure to make kids smile! For something more Japanese, the penguin rice ball is popular. Near the exit at Harvest Cafe, you can choose from many different dishes using ingredients local to Kyoto. At the gift shop just after exiting the aquarium, you can purchase Japanese sweets which look like different creatures found in the aquarium. They are so cute, you may not want to eat them, but they are so tasty, so please try!
Two or three times a day there is a dolphin show at Dolphin Stadium. Kids are surprised at the dolphins’ powerful jumps! When the show isn’t happening, you can go here to see the dolphins swimming around. As it is an open stadium, you can see the nature of Kyoto all around as you enjoy the dolphin show. You may also be able to see the dolphins with seasonal nature like cherry blossoms or fall colored leaves in the background!
Kyoto Aquarium Even Has a Rural Mountain Area!
Kyoto Aquarium provides a lot of information about protecting the environment of Kyoto. For that purpose, there is an area within the Kyoto Aquarium replicating a rural mountain area. If you go through the aquarium in order, just before the exit, you will find a zone called “The Countryside of Kyoto.” This area changes with each season and you can see different things growing such as rice or famous Kyoto veggies like “Kujo-negi” (a type of green onion), Shogoin turnips, etc.
Recently visitors from abroad make arrangements to go to see rice fields or rural mountain areas a bit far from the city, but actually, it’s not necessary! Please enjoy the comfortable, cool “Countryside of Kyoto” area of Kyoto Aquarium with your kids.
Local Moms’ Secret: The Most Exciting Spot for Kids in Kyoto Aquarium
Kyoto Aquarium is the best place to spend a hot summer day in Kyoto. Of course, it is air-conditioned making it comfortable for everyone, but that’s not all! Just before the exit, near the “Countryside of Kyoto” area, is a place where kids can enjoy playing in the water! You will see kids from toddlers to kindergarten age playing here on hot days. My kid even enjoyed it after moving up to elementary school. Be sure to bring towels and a change of clothes because most likely your child will fall in the water and get soaked. If you forget, you can exit (be sure to get a re-entry stamp) and purchase things like towels and swimsuits in the gift shop. I`m sure seeing your child enjoying water play with local kids will be a great memory of your trip.
*The water is shallow, but please be sure to keep an eye on your kids. Parents are able to sit nearby while watching their kids.
There’s so much to see at Kyoto Aquarium. Especially in Kyoto`s hot summer, we hope you can enjoy spending time with your kids here. Nemo and Dory are waiting to see you!
Address： 35-1 Kankiji-cho Shimogyo-ku Kyoto-shi, Kyoto (in Umekoji Park)
Hours：10 AM to 6 PM