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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Walking along the tank we came up along a strange rock that looks familiar.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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.
At the gift shop they have stuffed dolls and other limited gifts. They have a nice selection of polar bear gifts too!
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.
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.
Oga Aquarium GAO男鹿水族館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
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.
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.
It takes about 2 minutes on foot to Godzilla Rock from the parking lot. There are no roads so head through shallow 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!
It’s hard to believe that this was naturally made, it looks like it’s going to start roaring at any time.
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.
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.
However we couldn’t’t give up so we adjusted the camera angle and got a pretty nice photo!
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.
Shiosezaki (Godzilla Rock)潮瀬崎（ゴジラ岩）
- Address Kohama, Funagawa Minato, Oga-shi, Akita
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!
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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