Looking for a day out with a little entertainment and a little nature? Look no further than Shinagawa Kumin Park and the Shinagawa Aquarium.
The park offers a chance to enjoy nature without having to spend hours on a train to get there, while the aquarium lets you explore the sea without a wetsuit.
The aquarium is not large, but has special features on tide pools, deep sea life, and even tropical rivers, with one floor focusing on “the sea surface” and the other on “the sea bottom.” The deep sea exhibition includes a plexi-tunnel, so you can walk along the ocean floor and see creatures swimming over you. There’s a pool where you are allowed to touch starfish (more leathery than you might expect) and even a chance to cut open an oyster to find a pearl (for a fee, of course). There is also shark tank, a spotted seal observatory and a small colony of Magellanic Penguins. Three dolphin and two sea lion shows daily add to the entertainment.
The Shinagawa Aquarium is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day (closed Tuesdays during the school year as well as on Jan 1).
Admission is 1,300 yen for adults, 600 yen for school-age children, and 300 yen for pre-schoolers (kids 3 and under get in for free). There are discounts for JAF members.
Your ticket is good all day, so you can go in and out of the aquarium at your pleasure, allowing you to plan for the dolphin and sea lion shows, while also enjoying the other parts of the park, which extends north from the aquarium.
Just outside the aquarium is a gift shop, an ice cream stand and the “Dolphin” restaurant, which overlooks a tidal pond teeming with fish and seabirds. The food at the restaurant is rather ordinary, but you can get a passable lunch here. Or plan ahead and bring a picnic, as there are several picnic areas scattered around the park. If you really plan ahead, you can barbecue in the “day camp” area of the park (requires advance reservations; phone 3762-0655).
This is a place that is fun and relaxing for adults but is probably even more fun for families. Bicycles are available, rent free, for an hour at a time, at the bicycle center next to the barbecue area. An hour is just what you need for a leisurely ride along wooded paths around the entire park. The bicycles come in various sizes, including a very small size with training wheels, a perfect chance to get your little kids on a bike, perhaps for the first time. In most parts of the park, the paths are in parallel “lanes,” one for pedestrians/joggers and one for bicycles.
The woodlands of the park contain are over 100 varieties of trees, including flowering plum and cherry which particularly brighten the park during the first 4 months of the year. The park also contains baseball practice fields, tennis courts, a swimming pool, and a popular children’s playground. There is also a stocked fishing pond where you can fish for up to 2 hours for 100 yen during the winter months.
Many locals workout on an exercise circuit—equipment for stretching, sit ups, etc, posted at various intervals on the paths with instructions on how to use it. Even if you’re just in the park for the nature and a stroll, it can be fun to try out a couple!
How to get there:
The aquarium/park is less than a 10-minute walk from Omori Kaigan Station on the Keihin Kyuko train line which leaves from Shinagawa Station. Alternatively, there is a free shuttle bus from Oimachi Station on the JR Keihin Tohoku line. The shuttle bus leaves about every 15 minutes from bus stop #6 outside the east exit of Oimachi Station.
If you’re driving, the address is 3-2-1 Katsushima, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo, and there is paid parking available near the aquarium.
If you’re feeling really adventurous, leave the park by the north gate. If you turn left and then take the first right, you’re on the old Tokaido Road to Shinagawa. The walk takes about 30 minutes and offers a glimpse of old Edo and the historical role of the Tokaido Road and the post town. Watch this space for more details in the future. Turn right from the north gate and after 5 to 7 minutes you’ll reach the Oi Keibajo (horse racing track). There is a station on the monorail here, which will take you to JR Hamamatsucho Station.
Shinagawa Aquarium (in English): http://www.aquarium.gr.jp/en/index.html Shinagawa Kumin Park (in Japanese): http://www.city.shinagawa.tokyo.jp/hp/menu000000400/hpg000000342.htm© Japan Today