| Okinawa

“6 special tourist destinations to enjoy both the Ocean Expo Park and a view of the night sky at the Planetarium! “

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One of the first places people who travel to the main island of Okinawa want to go to is the Ocean Expo Park (海洋博公園)with its Churaumi Aquarium(美ら海水族館).
This national park facility was established in 1975 to commemorate the Expo ’75, which was held in Okinawa Prefecture. Its popularity has been growing year by year.
One of the most popular areas is the Okichan Theater of dolphins in the aquarium,
Since there is a wide variety of activities with more than 10 different attractions, the Ocean Expo Park can be enjoyed by children as well as adults.
Here we would like to introduce to you our recommendations for the top 6 attractions.

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At theTropical Dream Center, you can enjoy a tropical mood!

At theTropical Dream Center’s (熱帯ドリームセンター)
Botanical Gardens, you can enjoy the orchids and tropical plants from around the world in a tropical atmosphere.
 
When you drive from Nago City to Okinawa, Churaumi Aquarium (Ocean Expo Park) on the left side you will see a brick tower (that looks like the tower of Babel).
 
This landmark lets you know where to drive into the facility.
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Here there are three greenhouses with permanent exhibits with more than 2,000 orchids that we highly recommend seeing.
 
There are many types of orchids including the Moth Orchid (Phalaenopsis) as well as many varieties of different colored orchids from the Banda class of orchids. They also have what is known as the “queen of the orchids,” the Cattleya Orchid.
 
In addition, a big highlight is a panoramic view available from the 118-foot high observatory that gives you an exceptional view of Okinawa and the East China Sea.

The Number one “chillin spot” of Ocean Expo Park, Okinawan Kyodo Village!

You can explore the Ryukyu dynasty age settlement, Okinawan Village(おきなわ郷土村). This spot is recommended for people who “love Okinawan culture!”
 
Houses in Okinawa and the Takakura (place of prayer) has been reproduced here.
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If you’re feeling a little tired from too much fun at the Ocean Expo Park aquarium and Okichan theater, this is a good diversion to take advantage of. You can enjoy
a relatively small laid-back atmosphere here.
 
Located in the center of the village is the Omoro Arboretum. Here they pay tribute to Okinawa’s oldest song, “Omoro Sōsh,i” by growing here all 22 different types of plants that were sung about in the song.
 
Admission is free and you can experience traditional Okinawan music and dance.
 
It is a good place to enjoy conversation with some local elders and learn about the culture with your cup of tea.

At the Oceanic Culture Museum, you can experience the romance of the night sky and sparkling ocean view!

Oceanic Culture Museum (海洋文化館) is located in the southwestern part of Japan’s Okinawa’s gateway to Southeast Asia and the South Pacific.
 
Okinawa from the 14 century to the 16th century was known for its large-scale trade with other Asian countries. It did so without the use of engine-powered vessels and radar navigation.
 
With the spotlight on the maritime culture that made their travels possible, the museum pays tribute to Okinawan travelers as well as travelers from the other islands of the South Pacific.
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The museum has maritime culture and four large canoes on-site. They also have a tree representing Okinawan shipbuilding.
In addition to what is on display, do not miss the planetarium that presents the stars from a view of the south of the islands by making full use of computer graphics and animation
 
The Planetarium has three different shows you can see during the weekdays and four different weekend shows.

There is a free dolphin show at
Ocean Expo Park’s Okichan Theater!

A dolphin show is a standard marine activity that everyone can enjoy.
But the Ocean Expo Park dolphin show has something different.
 
The show at the Okichan Theater (オキちゃん劇場) is in an open-air arena, with a background of a dazzling sea of emerald green and clear blue sky. Guests can enjoy this luxurious experience that is unique to Okinawa.
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Bottlenose dolphins and killer whales perform an Acrobatic show teeming with dynamic jumps. It is truly an entertaining, comical show.
The whole show lasts about an hour. There is a 15-minute diving show before and after the 20-minute dolphin show.
You can observe up close and learn about the body mechanics and the ecology of the dolphin.
There is even a chance to feed and pet the dolphins while enjoying the dolphin lagoon.

The Ocean Expo Park has more than just dolphins. Do not miss the Manatee Pool!

The manatees may not be as popular as the dolphins at Ocean Expo Park, but they are lovely marine mammals with a magical charm that heals the beholder with gentle movements.
 
Manatees are herbivorous in their main habitats of North and South America and Africa.
Ocean Expo Park has two manatees, “Maya” and “Ryu” who arrived as Goodwill Ambassadors from Mexico. In 2001, they had a baby girl of a girl named “Yuma.”
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Dugong is close relatives of the manatees and can be seen in the Oura Bay of Kouri Island and around the east coast of Nago City. They are close in appearance to manatees and at one time were plentiful in the seas around Okinawa.
 
Manatee Museum (マナティー館) is a small facility, but it is a popular spot where you will find lots of visitors with cameras in hand gathered in front of the aquarium. You will know it is a popular spot when you hear all the cheers and excitement from the visitors inside.

Don’t miss the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium!

When all is said and done the number one attraction at the Ocean Expo Park is the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium(沖縄美ら海水族館).
With approximately 740 species, this is one of the leading aquariums in Japan.
There are more than 20,000 marine creatures in this exhibit.
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The charm of the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium is that with its multi-breed environment of whale, sharks and manta rays it is as appealing of an experience as visiting the real sea.
 
Located a short distance from the entrance is the “touch pool,” where you can experience an interactive exhibit in which you can actually touch the marine creatures. Starting from the reproduction of the shallow waters of the coral reefs you will be drawn into the deep sea as advance towards the back of the pool.
 
The most popular area of the pool is called the “Journey to the Kuroshio”. In addition to the huge water tank overlooking the many fish of the Kuroshio Sea, there are
whale sharks and manta rays swimming leisurely overhead.
There is an opportunity twice a day to watch as they feed the sharks. It is a must see event! There is definitely enough to see to fill your day and make your visit a very satisfying aquarium experience!

The water is clear at Ocean Expo Park’s Emerald Beach!

After enjoying walks through the Ocean Expo Park centerpiece facility, the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium, by all means, head for Emerald Beach!(エメラルドビーチ)
From a white sandy beach to a beautiful sea that ranges in color from emerald green to turquoise blue, this is a must-see location!
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The Ministry of the Environment certified the water quality at Emerald Beach
“the best” (AA).
Since the beach is located in a bay there isn’t much wind so it is an ideal place for children.
Plus, being that it is a west facing beach you can enjoy a beautiful sunset walk on the beach.
There are also several walking trails from which you can enjoy a sunset stroll.
It is a special place to enjoy a gracious time.

Smart tip
  • You can get a ride on the electric tour car that patrols the park. The cost for a one-time ride is 100 yen, but it is recommended to purchase the all day excursion tickets for 200 yen.
  • There are facilities and services that will give you a discount with the presentation of a used ticket from the Churaumi Aquarium.
  • There is a discount if you purchase your ticket for the Churaumi Aquarium after four o'clock."