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Enjoy Shinagawa Aquarium’s Aquatic Creatures Up Close – Make Fishy Friends in Tokyo!

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A perfect Tokyo aquarium for families with children, or adults who like to get up close and personal with the residents of the sea, Shinagawa Aquarium’s exhibits are set up so that animal-lovers of all ages can get a great look at all the creatures living there. With totally reasonable ticket prices (which include dolphin shows, seal shows, sea lion shows, and more) and well taken care of animals, Shinagawa Aquarium is worth a place in your Tokyo itinerary.

The Flow of the Shinagawa Aquarium



Take a few steps into the Shinagawa Aquarium and you'll be transported to the mountainous streams and rivers that flow from natural freshwater sources in the heart of Japan. That's because the layout of the aquarium is set up to guide visitors along the cycle of water flowing throughout the world. After first getting a look at the fish that jump waterfalls and swim through the rushing river water of Japan's mountainous countryside, the tour brings you to see the residents of sandy beaches and rocky shores that line Japan's island borders. Cross those, and the world opens up in front of you, right inside the Shinagawa Aquarium. Start small with displays of fish from the Tokyo Bay, and the natural bodies of water right in the Shinagawa area. Then branch out – the aquarium has tanks with colorful tropical fish from waters closer to the equator, displays focusing on creatures from the Mekong River in Southeast Asia and the Amazon River far off in South America, plus animals that roam the seas and travel all over the world. From local wildlife to fish who make their homes around the world, the Shinagawa Aquarium offers you and your little ones a far-reaching tour of the world's aquatic life, all in a compact aquarium setting.



Shinagawa Aquarium
3-2-1 Katsushima, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo
10:00 – 17:00 (final entry 16:30)
Adults: 1,350 yen | Elementary/Middle Schoolers: 600 yen | Children: 300 yen
Official Website

Why You Need to Add Shinagawa Aquarium to Your Itinerary

Reason ① The Animals Come So Close, It’s Like You’re Right in There With Them!



Have you ever had a seal swim inches under your feet? Or had a shark slink right up to your face and look you in the eye? Every step of the way, the animals feel so close, it's like they might just swim through the glass and do a few loops around your head (although we were assured that the creatures were safely secured within sturdy enclosures). Sometimes the thick glass that separates you from the water in aquariums make it feel a little like looking through a TV screen, but not at Shinagawa Aquarium!



The Aquarium Tunnel

When you're buying a house, "low ceilings" sound bad, but when you're talking about an aquarium tunnel, low ceilings make for an amazing experience. This tunnel is carved out of a 500-ton tank, populated by 900 ocean-dwellers of more than 60 different kinds. With the unusually low ceiling overhead, those creatures come closer than you'd expect. Giant rays sweep through the water just above your head, while marine fish give you side-eye as they saunter past. Rather than feeling claustrophobic, a stroll through the tunnel makes you feel like you're drifting through the great wide ocean with the fish of the sea.



The Spotted Seals

Check out the seal enclosure, and you'll be a little amazed at how many angles you can explore. From above you can see the seals peeking out of the watery depths, with their wet noses resting on the rocks. They're at a distance that's safe for you and the animals, but it feels like you could almost reach out a hand and give their heads a little rub. (One of the seals is even a little famous for curling up and napping in one of the circular windows that connect the inside and outside areas, so look out for the donut of chubby spotted seal when you visit!)

If you walk down the stairs, you'll find a second aquarium tunnel, this one inhabited just by the seals. It's the rest of their enclosure! The tunnel seems like it breaks up the tank into different areas, but they're actually all connected. Don't be shocked if a seal literally comes up under you and checks out the soles of your shoes through the glass!

Reason ② Fun for the Whole Family



When you're traveling with kids the ideal destinations are those that entertain then while also teaching them a little more about the world, which is why we heartily recommend the Shinagawa Aquarium for families traveling in Tokyo. The aquarium is pretty fantastic if you can read a little Japanese, with interesting signs talking about each of the displays, but still mixes a little education in with the fun for those who can't read the signage. For budding young marine biologists, labels with common names and scientific names are arranged around tanks (have they learned about binomial nomenclature yet?), and lots of the educational displays are visual representations that are clear enough even without reading the text. There are also great shows, showing off the intricate bodies and instincts of the creatures in the aquarium (more on that below)! And for parents, the aquarium is set up with plenty of facilities to make your life easier when it comes to breastfeeding and changing diapers.

Of course, perhaps most importantly, there are lots of exhibits at comfortable eye-level for kids of all ages!

Reason ③ It’s a Totally Affordable Outing in Busy Tokyo



Especially when you're touring a big city like Tokyo, travel expenses can add up, but that's no reason to skimp on the experiences you and your family are bound to enjoy. At 1,350 yen for adults and less than half that for children's tickets, the Shinagawa Aquarium is priced extremely reasonably for an aquarium – especially when you factor in all the shows you can see for free at that price. You can easily while away a happy and relaxed afternoon at the aquarium, with plenty to entertain children and adults alike. Keep reading to find out exactly what there is to do.

The Best Parts of Your Visit – Don’t Miss Them!

① Four Different Shows!



Not one, not two or three, but four different kinds of shows are put on regularly at the Shinagawa Aquarium. Working closely to create strong bonds with the animal performers, the Shinagawa Aquarium staff create shows that are both a joy to watch and pretty interesting to listen to (especially if you can pick up a little of the Japanese).



Sea Lion Shows

Agile in the water but good with their front flippers in all environments, sea lions are mischevious and clever. Thanks to the time the Shinagawa sea lions share with their caretakers, working together in ways enriching for the animals and clearly fun for the staff, these slippery guys can also pull off some cool tricks! Check out just what they can do with their long appendages and dynamic movements.



Seal Shows

If you're not a frequent aquarium visitor you might not be all that well-acquainted with the differences between seals and sea-lions. While sea lions like to hop onto the beach and manipulate things with their front flippers, seals (like the spotted seals at Shinagawa Aquarium) have bigger bodies and much smaller limbs, meaning they're clumsier out of the water. That's probably why they spend less time out of the sea. Swimming through the waves, though, spotted seals are surprisingly powerful and can jump right out of the water.



You can see how fun and natural it is for them to explode out of the tank during the seal shows, reaching high into the air!



Dolphin Shows

Of course Shinagawa Aquarium has dolphin shows too, put on in an arena mostly taken up by the huge dolphin tank. Watch out for splashes, because you can sit right up close! Right now is a special time for the Shinagawa dolphins, as well, with a series of dolphin births happening just recently, right in the aquarium! If you were wondering why the floor of the tank was all green, the (unreasonably adorable) baby dolphins are actually the reason for that, too, since they're still getting used to new surroundings. The algae growing in the enclosure is totally harmless, and the deep cleaning needed to keep the water crystal clear requires draining the tank. The adult dolphins are usually moved over to a neighboring tank during that cleaning process, so they're just letting things be to keep the dolphin calves comfortable until they adjust to being in both tanks.



The babies are pretty ridiculously cute. While the older dolphins perform in the shows, they get so enthusiastic they try to play along. Watch fully-grown dolphins jump high into the air, and then the small babies try their best to breach the water too!



Staff-Led Underwater Tank Shows

A little different from the other performances, the underwater shows at Shinagawa Aquarium feature staff diving into the water, swimming around the tunnel area, and talking to the gathered crowd about the animals through a mic inside their breathing mask. This is no recording! As the divers interact with the sharks, rays, and fish that swim by, they show off the animals and talk about what's going on in as it happens. 



The underwater shows let you see aquatic creatures in a new light, watching them play around with the divers as they chow down on fishy snacks.

② Hands-on Experiences

Got kids that dream of sticking their hands in the tank? All grown up and you still want to get your hands wet? These are for you.



Getting Nibbled on by “Doctor Fish”

If you're intrigued by the idea of the "fish spas" that have spread across the world in the last 20 or so years, the Shinagawa Aquarium is a good place to dip a toe in the water (or actually just a finger!) Instead of the standard spa setup where you dunk your feet into a tank of red garra fish, here you can sample the experience with just your hands, slipping them into the tank like you might at a touch-tank in any other aquarium. Here, though, the fish flock to your fingers, nipping trace bits of dead skin off of you with a fun tickling sensation that can be a lot of fun for kids and adults alike.



Dig for Pearls!

These pearls may be cultured, but they're very real, which is why the pearl experience at Shinagawa Aquarium involves really getting in there with an oyster. Part of the fun is that you don't know what you're going to find! Pearls can vary in color, shape, and texture, and using the big tweezers to dig out your very own treasure is pretty exciting.



The pearl experience is provided by an outside group, which means that sometimes the workshop opening period depends on actual oyster pearl availability, but with a little luck you'll get to try it out and find your own one in a million pearl! It costs 1,000 yen to take part, plus an additional fee if you want to get the pearl set in a pendant or a keychain. They have a little drill made for that purpose, so they can set the pearl right then and there if you want!

③ Insta-bae (インスタ映え) Spots

Great Places for the Coolest Photo-ops



The Jellyfish Room

Instead of jellyfish lining the walls, Shinagawa Aquarium's jellyfish room has tanks that jut out, letting you walk around and see them from all kinds of angles, and making for some pretty cool pictures.



There's even a jellyfish frame, a relatively thin tank that acts like a jelly-fish filled window. It's like a marine-themed snapchat filter, except the jellyfish that lazily float past your face are totally real, and not illustrated recreations.



The same room has a globe filled with little fish, as well. Try standing on the other side while someone takes a picture, and see what happens!



The Mirrored Staircase

Angle this shot just right and the aquarium's little hall of mirrors will make it feel a little like you're in another world, perhaps even under the ocean!



Jewels of the Tropics

There are beautiful and interesting fish throughout the aquarium, but this tank contains a collection of Shinagawa's most colorful little reef fish. Thanks to the clear lighting, these gems glow vividly in the water, making for a great photo backdrop.



The “Jumping Dolphin” Parfait Next Door

If you've worked up a hunger making your way through Shinagawa Aquarium, you can always duck out of the building and head next door. (Restaurant Dolphin is technically a separate business, but they offer lots of marine-themed food and snacks, making it a pretty good lunch spot when you visit the aquarium!) Finish off your meal with one of their adorably on-theme jumping dolphin parfaits, with a little dolphin cookie leaping right out of the ice cream.

Just don't lose your Shinagawa Aquarium ticket while you eat! Hold on to it and you'll get free re-entry to the aquarium all day.

Restaurant Dolphin
3-3-2-1 Katsushima, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo
Jumping Dolphin Parfait: 550~720 yen
Information Page

④ Unusual Animal Displays



The Electric Eel

Perhaps you've seen an electric eel before, but have you ever been able to see exactly how many volts it's producing in real time? The Shinagawa Aquarium eel is pretty used to us boring humans walking by every day, so it's normally just producing a fairly low-level charge, but get there when the eel is being fed and you'll see the number of volts jump up! Just for a moment.



Rivers of the World

Even if your kids don't speak Japanese, they'll probably have a good time pressing the buttons in the corners of this room, with Mekong and Amazon River fish on display. One of them will start a "thunder storm", with water drops falling onto the tank water and flashing "thunder and lightning" in the room. Pressing the other button will start a chat from, well, the tree! This arboreal friend teaches kids about the animals who live in rivers.



Penguins!

Love these feathery aquatic friends? At the Shinagawa Aquarium you can get right up to their open-air enclosure, a uniquely up-close penguin experience!

The Nitty-Gritty Details



First things first: this is the Shinagawa Aquarium, NOT the Maxell Aqua Park Shinagawa. On top of that, the Shinagawa Aquarium is NOT particularly near Shinagawa Station!

Now that we've cleared all that up, the Shinagawa Aquarium is pretty easy to get to! Take a train to the JR Oimachi Station to hop on a free shuttle bus that goes straight to the aquarium! Shuttle bus times vary by day, but you can see all the schedules in Japanese here. They're fairly easy to understand even without any Japanese knowledge. If you go on a day with nice weather, though, we recommend you walk over! Fifteen minutes walk from Omori Station and just eight minutes from Omorikaigan Station, the trip takes you through the surrounding park, which is due to reopen completely as a relaxing new local green space in 2020.

Once you arrive, buying a ticket and checking the show schedule is a breeze.



One intriguing point that a fair number of travelers have noticed is how close the Shinagawa Aquarium is to Haneda Airport. That's right, if you're leaving on an evening flight and don't really know how to spend your last day (or perhaps decided to spend your last evening at an airport hotel and need something to do before you go), we'd recommend the aquarium! It's right on the way, and as long as you check in with them first, they're happy to hold onto your larger suitcases (that don't fit into a locker) behind the counter for a small fee, while you wander the aquarium. Make one last nice memory of Japan before you go!



All ready to spend the day with the aquatic life of Shinagawa Aquarium now? We'd love to hear how your trip goes, and see all the pictures you take with the aquarium's animals! Let us know about your experience on twitter, instagram, and facebook!

 

⇩ If you still need more convincing, check out our short video from Shinagawa Aquarium below. ⇩

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NAME:Shinagawa Aquarium

MAP

ACCESS:Omorikaigan Station or JR Omori Station

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      Yamagata Prefecture is up against the Sea of Japan, in the southern part of the Tohoku region, and it's especially popular in winter, when travelers soak in the onsen (hot springs) and ski down snowy slopes. International skiiers are especially fond of Zao Onsen Ski Resort and Gassan Ski Resort, and in recent years visitors have been drawn to the area to see the mystical sight of local frost-covered trees. Some destinations are popular regardless of the season, like Risshakuji Temple, AKA Yamadera, Ginzan Onsen's nostalgic old-fashioned streets, and Zao's Okama Lake, all great for taking pictures. Yamagata is also the place to try Yonezawa beef, one of the top 3 varieties of wagyu beef.

    • Japan's most densely populated area, the Kanto Region (関東地方) includes 7 prefectures: Gunma, Tochigi, Ibaraki, Saitama, Tokyo, Chiba, and Kanagawa, which means it also contains the Tokyo Metropolitan Area. In modern-day Japan, Kanto is the cultural, political, and economic heartland of the country, and each prefecture offers something a little different from its neighbors.

    • Gunma Prefecture is easily accessible from Tokyo, and in addition to the area's popular natural attractions like Oze Marshland and Fukiware Falls, Gunma also has a number of popular hot springs (Kusatsu, Ikaho, Minakami, Shima)―it's even called an Onsen Kingdom. The prefecture is popular with history buffs and train lovers, thanks to spots like world heritage site Tomioka Silk Mill, the historic Megane-bashi Bridge, and the Watarase Keikoku Sightseeing Railway.

    • TOCHIGI

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      Tochigi Prefecture's capital is Utsunomiya, known for famous gyoza, and just an hour from Tokyo. The prefecture is full of nature-related sightseeing opportunities year-round, from the blooming of spring flowers to color fall foliage. Tochigi also has plenty of extremely well-known sightseeing destinations, like World Heritage Site Nikko Toshogu Shrine, Lake Chuzenji, and Ashikaga Flower Park―famous for expansive wisteria trellises. In recent years the mountain resort town of Nasu has also become a popular excursion, thanks in part to the local imperial villa. Tochigi is a beautiful place to enjoy the world around you.

    • Tokyo (東京) is Japan's busy capital, and the most populous metropolitan area in the world. While the city as a whole is quite modern, crowded with skyscrapers and bustling crowds, Tokyo also holds onto its traditional side in places like the Imperial Palace and Asakusa neighborhood. It's one of the world's top cities when it comes to culture, the arts, fashion, games, high-tech industries, transportation, and more.

    • The Chubu Region (中部地方) is located right in the center of Japan's main island, and consists of 9 prefectures: Aichi, Fukui, Gifu, Ishikawa, Nagano, Niigata, Shizuoka, Toyama, and Yamanashi. It's primarily famous for its mountains, as the region contains both Mt. Fuji and the Japanese Alps. The ski resorts in Niigata and Nagano also draw visitors from around the world, making it a popular winter destination.

    • Nagano Prefecture's popularity starts with a wealth of historic treasures, like Matsumoto Castle, Zenkoji Temple, and Togakushi Shrine, but the highlight might just be the prefecture's natural vistas surrounded by the "Japanese Alps." Nagano's fruit is famous, and there are plenty of places to pick it fresh, and the area is full of hot springs, including Jigokudani Monkey Park―where monkeys take baths as well! Thanks to the construction of the Hokuriku shinkansen line, Nagano is easily reachable from the Tokyo area, adding it to plenty of travel itineraries. And after the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics, ski resorts like Hakuba and Shiga Kogen are known around the world.

    • Aichi Prefecture sits in the center of the Japanese islands, and its capital city, Nagoya, is a center of politics, commerce, and culture. While Aichi is home to major industry, and is even the birthplace of Toyota cars, it's proximity to the sea and the mountains means it's also a place with beautiful natural scenery, like Saku Island, Koijigahama Beach, Mt. Horaiji. Often used a stage for major battles in Japanese history, Sengoku era commanders like Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu left their own footprints on Aichi, and historic buildings like Nagoya Castle, Inuyama Castle, and those in Meiji Mura are still around to tell the tale.

    • NIIGATA

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      Niigata is a prefecture on Japan's main island of Honshu, situated right on the coast of the Sea of Japan, and abundant with the gifts of nature. It's known for popular ski resorts such as Echigo-Yuzawa, Japanese national parks, and natural hot spring baths, plus local products like fresh seafood, rice, and sake. Visitors often spend time in the prefectural capital, Niigata City, or venture across the water to Sado Island.

    • SHIZUOKA

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      Shizuoka Prefecture is sandwiched between eastern and western Japan, giving the prefecture easy access to both Tokyo and Osaka. Not only is it known for beautiful natural attractions, with everything from Mount Fuji to Suruga Bay, Lake Hamanako, and Sumata Pass―Shizuoka's Izu Peninsula is known as a go-to spot for hot springs lovers, with famous onsen like Atami, Ito, Shimoda, Shuzenji, and Dogashima. Shizuoka attracts all kinds of travelers thanks to historic connections with the Tokugawa clan, the Oigawa Railway, fresh eel cuisine, Hamamatsu gyoza, and famously high-quality green tea.

    • Kansai (関西) is a region that includes Mie, Nara, Wakayama, Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo, and Shiga Prefectures. Kansai contained Japan's ancient capital for hundreds of years, and it's making a comeback as one of the most popular parts of Japan. Kyoto's temples and shrines, Osaka Castle, and the deer of Nara are all considered must-sees. Plus, the people of Kansai are especially friendly, making it a fun place to hang out.

    • Kyoto flourished as the capital of Japan between the years 794 and 1100, becoming a center for poilitics and culture, and to this day it's a great place for close encounters with Japanese history. The cobbled streets of Gion, the atmospheric road to Kiyomizudera Temple, Kinkakuji's golden walls and countless historic attractions, even Arashiyama's Togetsukyo Bridge―Kyoto is a place of many attractions. With new charms to experience throughout the seasons, travelers can't stop themselves from returning again and again.

    • Nara Prefecture's important history reaches back to 710, a time now called the Nara era, when it was once capital of Japan. Called "Heijo-kyo" during its time as a capital, it's said that nara was once the end of the silk road, leading it to flourish as a uniquely international region and produce important cultural properties of all kinds. To make the most of each season, travelers head to Nara Park, where the Nara deer who wander freely, or climb Mount Yoshino, a famous cherry blossom spot.

    • Osaka is known for friendly (and funny) people, but its history is nothing to laugh at, playing a major part in Toyotomi Hideyoshi's 16th century unification of Japan. Thanks to long years of economic activity, it's one of Japan's biggest cities, and Osaka's popular food culture earned it the nickname "The Kitchen of the Nation." To this day Osaka is the model of western Japan, and alongside historic structures like Osaka Castle, it also has major shopping malls like Umeda's Grand Front Osaka and Tennoji's Abeno Harukas. Osaka is a place to eat, eat, eat, with local specialties like takoyaki, okonomiyaki, and kushi-katsu, and for extra fun, it's home to Universal Studios Japan.

    • CHUGOKU

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      The Chugoku Region (中国地方) consists of five prefectures: Hiroshima, Okayama, Shimane, Tottori, and Yamaguchi. In Chugoku you’ll find the sand dunes of Tottori, and Hiroshima’s atomic bomb site, plus centers of ancient history like Grand Shrine of Izumo.

    • HIROSHIMA

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      Hiroshima Prefecture has everything, from world heritage sites to beautiful nature and delicious local cuisine, and it's either an hour and a half from Tokyo by plane, or four hours by train. Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima Island and the Atomic Bomb Dome, two Hiroshima UNESCO sites, are famous around the world, but in Japan it's also famous for food. Seafood from the Seto Inland Sea, especially oysters, Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki, and Setouchi lemons are all popular, and the natural scenery alone is worth seeing.

    • SHIKOKU

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      On the other side of the Seto Inland Sea opposite Japan’s main island, Shikoku (四国) is a region made up of four prefectures: Ehime, Kagawa, Kochi, and Tokushima. The area is famous for its udon (in Kagawa), and the beautiful Dogo Onsen hot springs (in Ehime).

    • Kagawa Prefecture is on the northern part of the island of Shikoku, facing Japan's main island and the Seto Inland Sea. It's known for being the smallest prefecture in Japan, by area, but at the same time Kagawa is called the "Udon Prefecture" thanks to its famous sanuki udon. Aside from Kotohiragu Shrine and Ritsurin Garden, the prefecture's small islands are popular, and Kagawa is full of unique destinations, like Angel Road. They say that if you lay eyes on Zenigata Sunae, a huge Kagawa sand painting, you'll never have money troubles ever again.

    • Located in the most southwestern part of Japan, Kyushu (九州) is an island of 7 prefectures: Fukuoka, Saga, Nagasaki, Kumamoto, Oita, Miyazaki, and Kagoshima. The island's unique culture has been influenced by Chinese and Dutch trade, along with missionaries coming in through Nagasaki's port. Modern-day travelers love the lush natural scenery and fresh food, plus the natural hot springs found all throughout the area (thanks to volcanic activity)!

    • FUKUOKA

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      Fukuoka Prefecture has the highest population on the southern island of Kyushu, with two major cities: Fukuoka and Kitakyushu. Thanks to growing transportation networks, Fukuoka is more accessible than ever, and so are the many local attractions. On top of historical spots like Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine, travelers shouldn't miss Fukuoka's food scene, with motsu nabe (offal hotpot), mentaiko (spicy cod roe), and famous Hakata ramen―best eaten from a food stall in the Nakasu area of Hakata. Plus, it's full of all sorts of destinations for travelers, like trendy shopping centers, and the beautiful nature of Itoshima and Yanagawa.

    • KAGOSHIMA

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      Kagoshima Prefecture played a major role in Japan's modernization as a backdrop for famous historical figures like samurais Saigo Takamori and Okubo Toshimichi, who pushed Japan out of the Edo era and into the Meiji. Because of that, Sengan-en Garden is just one of many historical destinations, and when it comes to attractions Kagoshima has plenty: the active volcano of Sakurajima, popular hot springs Ibusuki Onsen and Kirishima Onsen, World Heritage Site Yakushima Island, even what Japan calls the "island closest to heaven," Amami Oshima. Kagoshima might be found on the very southernmost tip of the southern island of Kyushu, but there's plenty to see.

    • OKINAWA

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      The island chain of Okinawa (沖縄) makes up the southernmost tip of Japan, which is why it's also the most tropical area in the country. Thanks to a history of independence and totally distinct political and cultural events, Okinawa has a unique culture, and remnants of the Ryukyu Kingdom are still visible all over the islands. Food, language, traditional dress, it's all a little different! It's also said to be the birthplace of karate.

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