Kyoto is well known for its shrines, temples and scenic scenery. This ancient city is full of interesting places to visit. However, if you want to break up the monotony of temples and shrines and try something different, I definitely recommend the visit to the Kyoto Aquarium.
In Japan, there is a romantic idea about going to aquariums for a date. For some people, it might sound like it is not a good option, but most Japanese couples believe that the magical environment of the aquarium brings a charming air to any date. Mainly in rainy or cold days you and your partner will be able to stroll around, enjoy a good conversation and have a truly interesting experience.
The Kyoto aquarium is quite new; it opened in March 2012. It is modern and well designed, but small compared to other aquariums in Japan (what makes it more captivating). The aquarium is located at Umekoji Park, near Kyoto station. Due to its easy access (you can take a bus or walk 15 min from Kyoto station), the aquarium is a good place to spend the day.
Kyoto Aquarium has twelve different themed areas exhibiting a variety of aquatic creatures, but the most interesting zone is the one that recreates the aquatic environment of rivers in Kyoto, presenting species of rare local aquatic life. We also can find fishes from the Japanese sea and the Japanese giant salamander.
In other zones, visitors can see sea life from across the world; many tropical fishes, and beautiful spellbinding jellyfishes. However, my recommendation is the seal and penguins. During specific times, you can see the staffs feeding them. It is a really interesting event where you can have fun watching people interacting with the cute Cape penguins.
The aquarium also has several dolphins. At the dolphin stadium you can watch different the performances. I can tell that the performances are very interesting and interactive. If you, like me, are in love with these amazing creatures, you must not miss the show. An extra point about the outdoor theater is that from there you have a great view from the area around the aquarium. This place is a good spot for pictures, because you can even capture the trains that drive by the aquarium area.
The aquarium also has another surprise, an exhibition about Kyoto’s countryside agriculture. Rice terraces and seasonal flowers originated from Kyoto can be seen there. The place has a different air from the aquarium; it has a calm atmosphere that makes the visitors forget they are in the Kyoto central area. The whole idea behind this zone is not only making people being in deeper contact with nature, but also allowing people to understand a little bit more about the countryside lifestyle in Japan.
If you are hungry or decide to have a break before continuing to check the amazing creatures at the aquarium, there are three cafes in the facilities. They sell several theme light meals. You can have a delicious, unique and fun coffee break – time to take more pictures.
One of the final attractions of the Kyoto aquarium is the souvenirs’ store. This place is full of cute and attractive things to buy if you want to bring something to keep as memory of your visit. You can even find the Japanese salamander in different sizes there. Even one of real size (around 170 cm).
Finally, from the sunset until closing time, the Aquarium offers a beautiful illumination. The colorful displays make the atmosphere around the aquarium more romantic and the perfect spot to take a picture of a happy couple.
After finishing the visit, the date does not need to end up. Since the aquarium is near to Kyoto Station, you and your partner can enjoy a walk and a delicious dinner at one of the several restaurants at Kyoto Station. The station has one specific area dedicated only for Japanese noodles (ramen), for example. Located at the 10th floor, the Kyoto Ramen Street has 8 shops offering tasty noodles from different regions of Japan.
In summary, Kyoto Aquarium is a nice alternative to the many temples and shrines that visitors see over the course of the trip around the old capital; it is the ideal place for an exquisite date in Central Kyoto.