Our first weekend in Okinawa, our sponsor and friends took us up north to to visit the Ocean Expo Park. We wandered along the beach and fed the fish from an observation deck. Then headed into the park and visited the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium. Chura means “beautiful” in Japanese and it was!
The aquarium is the second largest aquarium in the world, and has the world’s largest acrylic glass panel which is 8.2 meters high, 22.2 meters wide and 60 cm thick. In this tank you can see three whale sharks (7 meters long) and many manta rays swimming with other native fish (sakhana). The aquarium allows you to explore the waters of Okinawa from the surface to the ocean floor. It’s a pretty good substitute for those that don’t scuba dive (which is HUGE here).
We enjoyed the “Okichan Theater” which has a fun dolphin show. This park was so enormous that we bought season passes, so we can come back and explore more of it. There was so much that we didn’t even get to see. There was a fun mist machine at the entrance to help cool us off and all the scrubs were trimmed in the shape of sea animals. The Japanese are very detail oriented, and they do cute very well!
We had lunch on the top floor of the aquarium at the restaurant Inoh. We enjoyed a buffet-style lunch featuring Okinawan cuisine with an ocean view overlooking the East China Sea. It was pretty spectacular!