July 1st marked a big day for lovers of sea life, with the opening of the Sendai Umino-Mori Aquarium. The new facility is located in the port area of Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture, surrounded by chain stores and factories.
If you have been to the former Matsushima Marinepia Aquarium, you will notice that many of the exhibits, and even some of the staff, made the move to the Sendai Port area. The new aquarium is more than just a facelift though; it has been expanded, completely modernized and includes English explanations throughout.
The aquarium stands out for highlighting the coastal environment of Miyagi Prefecture. It lets visitors see below the sea’s surface and understand how oysters live, how they are farmed as well as the many local fish this region is famous for. Near the entrance is the main attraction: a massive tank featuring a rare blue shark and a circling school of sardines. The stage performances returned, but this time the humorous trained seals are joined by dolphins who impress with their speed and strength.
The penguins also made the move from Matsushima into much larger enclosures. Be sure not to miss them on the outdoor patio area and if you’re lucky you can watch a horde of them waddle behind the aquarium staff as they are individually hand-fed.
Summer hours are daily from 9 am to 7:30 pm with last entry at 7 pm.
Ticket Prices: Adults: 2100 yen, no college student discount.
Nearest train station: JR Senseki Line Nakanosakae Station (15 min. walk); Free Shuttle Bus from Nakanosakae Station available every 30 minutes between 8:45 am and 4 pm. Look for a shuttle labelled 「仙台うみの杜水族館」.
Direct Bus: Starting in January 2017 is a direct bus connecting the aquarium with Sendai Airport and Matsushima.
Website (Japanese): http://www.uminomori.jp/