Located on Shimoda Bay in the southeast corner of Shimoda City, Shimoda Underwater Aquarium is an aquarium with a twist.
Shimoda Underwater Aquarium, sometimes referred to as Shimoda Floating Aquarium, is a mid-size aquarium and marine stadium with an interesting floating domed building that allows a unique view into the water below via lower level aquarium-glass windows. It has a lot of aquatic life to see here including dolphins, jellyfish, manta rays, penguins, sea lions, sea otters, sea turtles, plus a multitude of other fish and sea life.
The aquarium consists of 3 main areas connected by floating docks surrounding a small bay where dolphins swim freely.
The marine stadium hosts various dolphin and sea lion shows. Shimoda Underwater Aquarium also gives opportunities to touch, interact with, and feed various marine life (some of which requires an extra fee).
There are a couple dining options available here offering cafeteria style food. A large gift shop offers both aquatic themed wares, and local souvenirs.
Admission cost is by age: 2,000-Yen (ages 13 & over), 1,000-Yen (ages 4 – 12).
Hours of operation: 9:00am – 4:30pm (from February to October), and 9:00am – 4:00pm (from November to January).
Some events and shows may be canceled due to poor weather.
Shimoda Underwater Aquarium is in Shimoda city, Shizuoka Prefecture. The closest station is Izukyu Shimoda Station, it is a 7-minute drive from the Shimoda Floating Aquarium. A few accessible taxi companies operate in Shimoda but only speak Japanese. Your hotel may be able to make reservations for you.
It is possible to take the city bus to the aquarium but not every bus on the route is accessible, and buses don’t run as often as in a larger city. Calling the bus company in advance is recommended to inquire about accessibility of buses at specific times.
The aquarium consists of three sections connected by floating docks that have ramps. However, building pathways from docks creates an interesting accessibility challenge – the height of the docks, and therefore the incline of the ramps, changes with the tides of the bay! Many of the ramps are very steep and can even be difficult with a power wheelchair.
The area around the Seal House, Penguin Pool, and Marine Stadium is hilly and the pathways can be very steep.
With a few small exceptions, the main buildings are wheelchair accessible and visitors with mobility challenges can see the majority of the displays. The underwater aquarium has a long ramp leading to the lower section.
There are several dolphin shows. The outside performance can be viewed from Aqua Dome The Perry. There are special splash seats (on boats in the bay) which are not accessible. The sealion and dolphin show is held in the Marine Studium. While there is a steep ramp up to the lower floor of the stadium, the view of the show is disappointing. Wheelchair users or others who cannot climb steps must sit in the splash-area. The waterline is high so visitors can see the action in the water, but for those sitting at the very front it is nearly impossible to see anything going on above the surface.
Activities involving going in the water or smaller decks (including Dolphin School) are only available to those who can walk.
There are rest areas in every section for those who need to sit down. Service dogs (seeing-eye dogs, assistance dogs, and hearing dogs) are allowed throughout the aquarium.
There is a wheelchair accessible toilet available at the gift shop and by the Marine Stadium.
If you are in Shimoda and love dolphins, Shimoda Underwater Aquarium can be a fun place to visit. However, getting to the aquarium and moving around the docks can provide a challenge for those with mobility challenges.
- Phone: +81-558-22-3567
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