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Oga Aquarium GAO Guide: Fish, Polar Bears and...Godzilla?

Oga Aquarium GAO Guide: Fish, Polar Bears and...Godzilla?

Date published: 28 October 2019
Last updated: 6 August 2020

Oga Aquarium GAO, located on Oga Peninsula in the western part of Akita Prefecture, is the only aquarium in Akita. The aquarium has popular animals such as polar bears, seals and penguins. They also have a display section for the prefectural fish hatahata (Japanese sandfish), and other events such as the limited time Namahage Diver.

Let’s take a look at Oga Aquarium GAO and the scenic spot Godzilla Rock!

Oga Aquarium GAO: Located in a Great Location

Oga Aquarium GAO is located on the ocean side of Oga Peninsula and take sabout 45 to 60 minutes by the Namahage Shuttle Bus (requires reservation) from JR Oga Station. The aquarium was established in 1967 and at the time they mainly displayed fish from the surrounding area, however when they renewed the aquarium in 2004, they started displaying more animals such as the polar bear. It was also used in the movie Tsuribaka Nisshi and attracted attention.

▲In 2014 they have surpassed 3 million visitors

Also in front of the aquarium is the Oga Peninsula West Coast, which is known to be a great location to get a view of the Sea of Japan. You can feel the history and the grandness of nature from the nearby shore where you can find lava rocks that were created around 30 million years ago.

▲Oga Peninsula West Coast was selected as the #1 scenic spot in the Akita Prefecture’s 30 Best Scenic Spots
▲View of Sea of Japan from the aquarium entrance
▲Awesome view of the sunset and Sea of Japan!!

After looking around the area feeling the sea breeze, lets head in!

Godzilla Rock, Namahage Diver at GAO Main Tank!?

Oga Aquarium GAO has a viewing course that goes from the 1st to the 3rd floor and has a total of 15 display areas. Each display area has a theme so we decided to check them out.

▲Aquarium map The building is shaped like a boat (data provided by: Oga Aquarium GAO)

After entering the building on the first floor, the first thing we saw is the GAO Main Tank. The large 8m deep tank that holds 800t of water has about 40 species of 2,000 fish that live in the sea of Oga on display. Here you can see various creatures such as the commonly eaten horse mackerel and red seabream, to sea turtles and rays.

▲The GAO Main Tank is the deepest tank in the Tohoku region and is impressive!
▲You can see the sea turtles swimming up close

Not only the size but the beauty is another feature of the tank. The acrylic used in the tank is 49cm thick, however it is very transparent and allows you to see clearly at the replicated sea of Oga.

▲The fishes swimming looks magical (photo provided by Oga Aquarium GAO)
▲The side is a water tunnel and you can see the fishes swimming above you

Also, during the New Year’s season, there are limited events. In Oga Peninsula, there is a tradition where men dress up as a Namahage (wearing a demon mask and straw cape) during the new years and yelling at children asking them if they are a cry baby or a bad kid. At Oga Aquarium, GAO divers will dress up as Namahage and feed the fishes in the main tank. It is a popular event that is held every year.

▲Namahage Diver feeding (event period: December 30th - January 3rd) (Photo provided by Oga Aquarium GAO)

Walking along the tank we came up along a strange rock that looks familiar.

▲The rock looks like it’s about to spew fire out

Doesn’t this rock look like Godzilla? There is a reason why a Godzilla looking rock is in the aquarium; it is because there is a natural Godzilla Rock in the Oga Peninsula. The one in the tank is a replica, but they included the Godzilla Rock as a collaboration with the nearby sightseeing location.

Going up to the second floor, there are various tanks with different themes on display.
For example, in the Fish in the Sea around Japan section, the fishes living in the Sea of Japan are promoted. They have deep-sea fish sections to fishes native to Akita and Oga Peninsula.

▲The fin of the Tokubire (Japanese Poacher) looks like a fan. These fish can be found throughout the Tohoku region and Hokkaido
▲In Akita the torafugu (tiger puffer) is being branded as the “northern puffer”

Next in the Forest and Rivers in Akita section, they have fish from the beautiful rivers in Akita on display. Freshwater fish like Japanese salmon and chars that live in clean rivers are on display and also the currently endangered species shinaimotsugo (moroco). There is also a section where you can learn about Akita’s nature which has been protected from ancient times.

▲The outdoor tank where sunlight beams in
▲The beautiful Japanese salmon also called the “Queen of Streams”
▲The endangered species shinaimotsugo

After learning about Akita’s nature, we will continue to the third floor, with many photogenic species.

From Beautiful Creatures Living in Coral Reefs to Large Fish in the Amazon on the Third Floor

▲Going up the slightly majestic (?) escalator to the third floor

In the Marine Life Living in Coral Reefs section there are many colorful tropical fishes on display, and many people start taking pictures and look for the fish they like.

▲The colorful fish looks even prettier in the coral tank
▲If you look carefully, you might find a rare fish in between the coral
▲We found the popular spotted garden eel!

While being charmed by the shiny world, we kept walking along and entered the Amazon section. Seeing these giant fish and rare fish with an extravagant look swimming elegantly is quite different from the coral reef tanks.

▲They have replicated the biosphere of the Amazon River! Seeing the shadow of fishes swimming gives off a scary vibe.
▲The world’s largest fresh water fish pirarucu. The largest pirarucu on record is 4.5m long!
▲The retail catfish with its unique tail (photo provided by Oga Aquarium GAO)

From cute little fish living in between corals to large fishes with presence living in the Amazon, after enjoying both worlds, it’s time to meet the main star of Oga Aquarium GAO!

Gota the Polar Bear is too Cute!

From the third floor, you can look down on the Polar Bear section on the second floor. Here Gota, the polar bear that arrived from Moscow Zoo in 2005, lives happily.

He is known to be shy and hide behind objects, as we looked in, we found Gota!

▲There he is! Gota the polar bear.
▲He jumped in the pool and started swimming!
▲What is this cute animal!?

Polar bears are one of the largest carnivores for land creatures, I always thought they were fierce and scary. However seeing Gota play, is just adorable and cute! Makes me want to take him home.

▲Another from a different angle. So cute that I thought it was a costume!

By the way, there are two play areas for Gota, on the second floor there is the polar bear tank and if you are lucky you can see Gota swimming.

▲Gota underwater (photo provided by Oga Aquarium GAO)

You can also see Gota play with toys too. We strongly recommend seeing this cute creature and don’t forget you can see him from different angles.

Feeding Time is the Best Photo Opportunity!

The other stars of the aquarium along with Gota are the penguins, seals, and sea lions. You can get a look at them in the tanks at any time, however, we strongly recommend visiting them during feeding time, and it is the perfect photo opportunity!

*Feeding time may change

▲Two types of penguins actively swim around in the Penguin section on the second floor
▲Penguin eating. They make sure to feed each individual penguin to monitor their health condition (feeding time starts at 10:30 a.m. - and 3:30 p.m. -)
▲The California Sea Lion section, the sea lions even conduct small performances such as catching food (feeding time starts at 11:20 a.m. - and 2:40 p.m. -)
▲They showed us how their mouth looks and how they can swallow their food whole
▲Making handstands look easy!
▲At the Spotted Seal section next door you can see the cute creatures (feeding time starts at 11:30 a.m. - and 2:30 p.m. -)
▲When the seals kiss you can hear the crowd melt

By the way the on the first floor there is an underwater viewing space where you can see the seals and sea lions swim from below. They are very friendly and come over when your eyes meet!

▲Best time to take a picture is when they come out of the stone tunnel
▲If your eyes meet and you wave at them, they might come close to you!

Also Oga Aquarium offers various events thought the seasons. Make sure to take a look at the event information on their official website.

Only Place in Japan that Displays Hatahata All Year Round

A unique feature of Oga Aquarium GAO is the rare display that represents Akita. On the second floor, there is the Hatahata Museum, where they go over the history and charm of the prefectural fish. This is the only place in the country where they have hatahata on display all year round. They explain various things in detail, such as the food culture around hatahata and playing videos of their ecology.

▲Hatahata has supported Akita’s food culture as preserved food from ancient times.
▲They introduce various food culture such as the Akita’s local cuisine Shottsuru Nabe

They also have a Jellyfish section and a Touch Pool section where you can touch different sea creatures. At first you might think it’s a small aquarium, however each section is detailed and we spent about 2 hours looking around.

▲Oddly relaxing seeing the jelly fish float (2nd floor Jelly Fish section)
▲At the Touch Pool on the second floor you can touch sea urchin, sea cucumbers and other creatures found by the beach

At the gift shop they have stuffed dolls and other limited gifts. They have a nice selection of polar bear gifts too!

▲The museum shop near the exit on the 1st floor
▲The Shirokuma-kun salt potato chips (650 yen tax included). It uses the GAO original package and if you build it, it becomes a polar bear with paws and years
▲Salt flavored instant ramen Shirokuma Noodle (220 yen tax included)
▲Gota Soft Ice Cream with salt from Oga (300 yen tax included). The sweetness and the slight saltiness help energize you

If you get hungry we recommend stopping by the restaurant in the aquarium.

Enjoy the Unique Cuisine of Oga Aquarium

The restaurant Flutto next to the museum shop offers a magnificent view of the Sea of Japan. Since they offer local cuisine of Akit and Oga, it is a great place to try it out.

▲You can get a panoramic view of the Sea of Japan from the window seats
▲The famous dish Oga Shottsuru Yaki-soba (fried noodles) (950 yen tax included). The fried noodles cooked with Shottsuru fish sauce made from hatahata has great texture.
▲Gota’s Branded Pancake (500 yen tax included, includes drink bar) is popular with women and children. Don’t forget to pour the maple syrup on

Once you are enjoyed the aquarium, food, and start to head home, you will see a sign that reads “20-30 minutes by car to Godzilla Rock”. We decided to stop by the real Godzilla Rock since it is nearby.

▲We are going to try and get a photo of Godzilla Rock and the sunset!
  • Oga Aquarium GAO
    • Address Togashiohama Oga-shi, Akita
    • Hours: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (Early November to early March closes at 4:00 p.m., hours may change depending on the season)
      Closed: Please check the official website
      Fee: Adults 1,100 yen, elementary to junior high school students 400 yen (both include tax), infants free
      Phone: 0185-32-2221

Fire-Breathing Godzilla Rock Photo!

Godzilla Rock is southwest from Oga Aquarium at Shiosezaki, and all you have to do is drive down the mountain road along the coast of Sea of Japan, however many people have a hard time finding it. Here are the directions.

▲It is about 14km away from Oga Aquarium, about a 20-minute drive by car (©OpenStreetMap

To reach Shiosezaki all you need to do is drive down Prefectural Road 59, however there is a sign right after you go around a u-shaped corner.

▲Once you see the small building “Isonoya Ryokan” to your right, you are almost there. About 1km until you reach Shiosezaki
▲You will see the Godzilla Rock sign to the right. There is enough space for few cars and motorcycles to park

It takes about 2 minutes on foot to Godzilla Rock from the parking lot. There are no roads so head through shallow water.

▲The view from the entrance. The beautiful clear water

Walking along the shore there are many oddly shaped rocks and it is hard to find the Godzilla Rock, but we found it toward the sun!

▲We found Godzilla Rock before it started to blow fire!

It’s hard to believe that this was naturally made, it looks like it’s going to start roaring at any time.

▲When you look at it from the front, it looks more like a snake?

The “fire breathing” Godzilla Rock photo is taken by waiting for the sun to set and reaching the mouth part of the rock.

We tried trying to change the angle and take a picture before the sunset. However we only got a picture of Godzilla with shiny eyes. Another thing is when we changed the angle the rock didn’t look like Godzilla.

▲Shiny eyed Godzilla Rock
▲We decided to wait for the sun to set.

The sun started to set and we thought it was a good time. As we prepared for the picture we realized one critical issue. The angle of the sun and Godzilla’s mouth doesn’t match...

The best time to see Godzilla Rock is in April and October, and we visited in early September. We were a bit early to get a “best” picture of Godzilla Rock.

▲The sunset and Godzilla Rock

However we couldn’t’t give up so we adjusted the camera angle and got a pretty nice photo!

▲We finally got the shot of Godzilla blowing fire!
▲If you are lucky you can get a nice picture with the back light giving it a dynamic effect

There is only a brief moment when the sun and mouth overlaps, however you can get a nice photo with a smartphone so even beginners should be able to get a nice shot.

If you are in the area on a nice day see if you can get a picture of Godzilla Rock breathing fire.

▲It took about 5 minutes for the sun to move away
▲Also the general view of the sunset at Shiosezaki beach is beautiful
  • Shiosezaki (Godzilla Rock)
    • Address Kohama, Funagawa Minato, Oga-shi, Akita
    • Free entry

Cute creatures in Oga Aquarium and beautiful collaboration of Godzilla Rock and the sunset. Enjoy your time in Oga Peninsula and you might find a one of a kind photo opportunity!

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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