Marinepia Nihonkai: Marine Paradise at Niigata Aquarium

Photo: contri on Flickr

Marinepia Nihonkai: Marine Paradise at Niigata Aquarium

Babina Kharel

Niigata being a port city exhibits wonderful marine life in its natural habitat. People enjoy the touch of the sea by swimming, surfing, fishing or just strolling in the beach. Niigata is also very popular for the fresh delicacies of sea food. Marine environment is a huge part of Niigata’s lifestyle. The bonding and love of people for the Japan Sea can also be observed during the Japanese holiday Sea Day ( Umi No Hi) in mid-July when even toddlers are slowly accustomed to live in harmony with marine life. However, in the natural habitat it is not possible to see and adore all those sea beauties enjoying their marine world.

So visiting the Marine Aquarium ( Marinepia) in Niigata lets you experience how it feels to be surrounded by the world of sea life. With a closer focus you will get to watch their features and activities in detail. With an emphasis on demonstrating the sea life of Japan coast, this facility hosts approximately 500 varieties and 20,000 specimens of sea life. Most of them being locals to Niigata but some invited from other parts of the world to be their guest. The facility is located on the beach of the Sea of Japan that gives a natural uninterrupted feel of marine environment.

Tour Through the Tunnel


There are several different exhibitions ranging from small fish tanks along the wall to the fish getting bigger as you head inside the under sea tunnel. It is informative to read the names and details of the fish displayed. Not just fish varieties, you will also be able to see turtles and sharks. Similarly, there are jelly fishes and sting rays in the thousands.

The movement of these sea beauties is truly adorable and capturing their pictures while they swim in salt water is a fun pastime. You will be surprised to see how colorful and diverse the underwater life can be if you are visiting an aquarium for first time. There isn’t any particular season to visit the aquarium as the display being indoors runs year round. This aquarium is a perfect facility for educational and recreation tours for families with young children. Well, for someone like me born in a landlocked country, close watch to sea life is a heavenly experience.

Dolphin Show


The other primary attraction of this facility is the Dolphin Show. This popular show runs 4-5 times a day. Dolphins are beautiful no matter where but these trained gorgeous creatures do a wonderful job amazing their audience. Not just jumping through the ring and over the stick, these intelligent buddies know more tricks to get the crowd cheering.

The happiest face you see in the audience during the show is (no surprise) the little kids. If you get lucky, you may be chosen from among the audience to go and touch these dolphins and interact with nature. I wish I had a chance but better luck next time!

Observing the Endangered Otters, Seals and Penguins


Visitors can observe endangered species such as sea otters, Baikal seals and Humboldt penguins in this facility. These creatures are protected outdoors. My favorites among them are penguins for being such an unique creature. I just love the way they walk so elegantly; it's like a model on the ramp. I can spend all day just watching their activities. However, they have a very peculiar kind of smell that many people cannot stand for long.

Feeding the Sea Lions


During the feeding time, visitors will be able to see the large sea lions up close from the bleachers while listening to explanations from the aquarium staff. They can actually make big roars loud enough to fill the air.

Being from a country not near the sea, a day spent at an aquarium is one I cherish and hold dear. The sea is bursting with life and wonders either discovered or just waiting to be found. At an aquarium like this, people can get a head start to a wealth of knowledge and maybe make some new friends.

Opening Hours

9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m (Admission ends 30 minutes prior to closing)

Entrance Fees:

Adults - 1500 Yen

Junior High/ Elementary Students- 600 Yen

Young Children- 200 Yen

ADDRESS: 951-8555 Niigata Prefecture, Niigata, Chuo Ward, Nishifunamicho, 5932−445