My husband and I decided to visit Shinagawa Aquarium which offers the only under-water tunnel aquarium in Tokyo (amazingly, there are many aquariums in Tokyo). Though the name of this aquarium suggests that it is located in Shinagawa, it is in fact situated in Omori-Kaigan, a few train stations away from Shinagawa station and Haneda Airport (one has to transfer to the Keikyu line at Shinagawa to get there). Since I was unfamiliar in this area we first made a mistake of taking an express train rather than the required futsu train (an ordinary train that stops at every station it passes). We travelled as far as Haneda Airport and went back to the starting point, Shinagawa station, in order to catch a futsu train, since it was more time efficient to redo the travel from the Shinagawa station. So when we finally arrived at Omorikaigan (Omori beach) it was nearly noon time. Omori-Kaigan is part of Tokyo, but the general atmosphere of the place was somewhat rural or at least suburban. Shinagawa Aquarium was located at one side of a community park, Shinagawa Kumin Park, a few minute walk from the train station.
We enjoyed walking past the early plum blossoms and bridged pond that extended in sideways in the community park, where free rental bicycles are available (judging from the way bicycles are left along the streets nonchalantly, bicycles rarely get stolen in Japan). We purchased the tickets and got into the aquarium. Like many science-related museums the aquarium was packed with school children. At the entrance a few exhibits were dedicated to show the creature life at Tokyo Bay. As we headed to the under-water tunnel we noticed a few under-water shows were scheduled to start at the feeding time. The under-water tunnel was not huge but quite magical in the way that made one feel as if one had been in the water. There were sting rays, big turtles, sea breams, tunas, sea snakes, and schoosl of several kinds of fish. When we came upon the side glass of the aquarium the feeding time was starting. First, a woman in diving gear appeared in the water with a few shell meats. She fed stingrays first and individually with shell meat after petting them. The stingrays even performed tricks of going through a wheel. After feeding the stingrays she fed other fish. The children seem enchanted by such a display of friendly interaction between a human and fish. Next, we saw a show involving two dolphins (three other dolphins were fed in the side tank; they seemed playful and acted as if they had also wanted to join the two that were performing). The dolphins jumped up into the air while spinning their bodies in unison; they jumped through the hoops in the air, they played with beach balls (in short, the usual performances one sees at sea-creature attractions). My husband said that he thought the dolphin show was the best dolphin show he had ever seen.
Tokyo has many museums, aquariums, and other educational facilities. Visiting the Shinagawa Aquarium, a mid-sized aquarium, in some ways made me understand why so many young Japanese families I know want to live in Tokyo. Simply put, it offers more opportunities to the young people who want to learn about the best of the world as well as the way of the world. (I know such a pronouncement may be misleading because reality is much more complex.)