UWS Aquarium Odaiba: A Modern Take on Classic Japanese Design

Odaiba is one of the most popular areas for tourists to visit when they come to Japan. This artificial island surrounded by the water at Tokyo Bay is the perfect location for the UWS Aquarium with its fantastic goldfish displays. Visitors will enjoy admiring the fish and wonder at the modern and traditional art in this enthralling attraction.

As marvellous as the UWS Aquarium is, it’s not without its online critics. Some visitors feel that this Odaiba aquarium is a little small, so it doesn’t justify its price tag. Others have hit out at UWS Aquarium and claimed there are animal welfare issues because of the size of tanks or the light features.

After spending a fun evening exploring the UWS Aquarium Ga-Kyo, I can now advise if it’s worth visiting. I will also touch on animal welfare issues and share my opinion on whether this is a cause for concern or should deter your visit.

The entrance to UWS Aquarium Gakyo
The entrance to UWS Aquarium Gakyo

How to Get UWS Aquarium Tickets

The easiest and quickest way to get UWS Aquarium Ga-Kyo tickets is on KKDay. By using KKDay, you can buy tickets in advance and use them instantly for the same price as purchasing directly. 

A bonus of purchasing through KKDay is that it comes with a gift. When I visited, I received a free origami fish kit. The origami kit was a great souvenir to take home and help remember the experience.

UWS Aquarium Odaiba Tokyo
  • Easily purchase your UWS Aquarium Tokyo Ticket and receive a free origami gift from KKDay
  • Open admission on your selected date
UWS Aquarium Entrance ticket with the free origami gift.
UWS Aquarium Entrance ticket with the free origami gift.

UWS Aquarium Ga-Kyo ticket price:

  • Adults – 1500 Yen (US$ 10)
  • Children – 800 Yen (US$ 5.40)
  • Children under the age of elementary school can enter for free.

Adults with a disability can receive entry for the children’s ticket price. But you must provide relevant documents at the entrance. One caregiver can enter for free with the disabled visitor.

You can also buy tickets for the UWS Aquarium at the venue on the day of your visit.

Where is UWS Aquarium Ga-Kyo and How to Get There

The UWS Aquarium is on the artificial island of Odaiba, Tokyo. Odaiba is a popular shopping and entertainment district in Tokyo Bay across the Rainbow Bridge from Central Tokyo.

UWS Aquarium Address:

3rd Floor, Aqua City Odaiba, 1-7-1 Daiba, Minato City, Tokyo, Japan, 135-0091

There are various methods of getting to UWS Aquarium from central Tokyo. Some of these methods are unique and add to the overall experience.

Map Tokyo Station to UWS Aquarium
Map Tokyo Station to UWS Aquarium

Yurikamome Line

The Yurikamome Line connects Shimbashi Station directly to Daiba Station. This journey takes 15 minutes and costs 325 Yen (US$ 2.18). From there, it is a 6-minute walk to UWS Aquarium. 

The Yurikamome line is a fun experience for travellers. It is an automated and elevated train providing stunning views of the harbour and Tokyo waterfront. Pro tip: sit at the front of the train for the best unrestricted views. 

The view from the automated train on the Yurikamome Line.
The view from the automated train on the Yurikamome Line.

Rinkai Line

The Rinkai Line connects Osaki to Tokyo Teleport Station. This is an 11-minute journey and costs 335 Yen ($2.25). From there it is a 14-minute walk to UWS Aquarium.

Select trains on the JR Saikyo Line also run on the Rinkai Line. They provide direct connections between Shinjuku and Shibuya to Tokyo Teleport Station for 513 Yen (US$ 3.44) and take 24 minutes. 

Odaiba Rainbow Bus

The Odaiba Rainbow Bridge is a circular bus journey from Shinagawa Station (Konan Exit) to Odaiba with various stops along the way. Ride the bus until the Daiba-Ninchome (Daiba 2) stop. From there it is a 5-minute walk to UWS Aquarium. This bus costs 220 yen (US$ 1.48) and takes 25 minutes. 

Tokyo Water Bus

The most interesting way of getting to this Odaiba Aquarium is by the Tokyo Water Bus. The Water Bus goes from Asakusa pier to Odaiba pier and offers visitors a stunning view of Tokyo Bay.

Asakusa Water Bus
  • Easily purchase your Asakusa Water Bus tickets at a discounted price

The Water Bus journey offered by Tokyo Cruise is a more relaxing way of travelling to Odaiba. This also turns the journey into part of the experience. 

The rooftop deck of the water buses offers visitors a 360-degree view of the Tokyo cityscape. Manga artist Leigi Matsumoto created the boat’s futuristic design.

The Water Bus takes 70 minutes from Asakusa pier to Odaiba pier and costs 1720 yen (US$ 11.51) for an adult. And 860 yen (US$ 5.75) for a child ticket. From Odaiba pier, it is a 4-minute walk.

You can easily pre-purchase tickets from Klook, KKDay, or Rakuten Travel Experiences.

Tokyo Water Bus - Queen Emeraldas
Tokyo Water Bus – Queen Emeraldas

UWS Aquarium Hours of Operation

Before visiting the UWS Aquarium, it is best to check the official website for any closures or changes in hours due to public holidays.

UWS Aquarium Ga-Kyo hours:

  • Weekdays – 11:00 – 20:00
  • Weekends and public holidays – 11:00 – 21:00

The last entry to UWS Aquarium is 30 minutes before closing time.

As Tokyo is a massively populated city, the aquarium can become busy during weekends and evenings. The best time to visit the aquarium is during a weekday in the afternoon, as long as it’s not a school holiday. 

If UWS Aquarium is too busy on your arrival, you may be asked to wait outside until other people have finished.

The Ryugu display is perfect for photo ops (photo permission received).
The Ryugu display is perfect for photo ops (photo permission received).

Brief History of the UWS Aquarium Ga-Kyo

Gakyo Miyazawa produced the UWS Aquarium. Gakyo is known for pioneering a new aquatic style in which fish tanks are called “water planets.” 

Gakyo Miyazawa has earned a reputation across various genres, including biotopes and terrariums. He has many supporters because of his collab events with musical and ceramic artists. 

Gakyo Miyazawa has produced various aquariums all over Japan. And he has won many awards for his work. In 2007 Gakyo’s work Wabisabi won three awards at the Japan Ornamental Fish Fair Fish Tank Display Contest. 

He also became one of Japan’s top fish tank display creators after being featured on TB ASAHI’s “Fish Tank Paradise”.

In 2008 Gakyo produced Aqua Harden at Cubic Plaza in Shin-Yokohama. In 2012, Gakyo was first featured in Odaiba by creating Resort Aquarium at Aqua City Odaiba. In 2014 the Tokyo Management Innovation and Manufacturing Plan adopted Gakyo’s ‘Japanese-style garden fish tanks’.

Gakyo opened the Kingyo Museum in 2018 in the Mi Nara shopping mall in Nara Prefecture. This became the largest goldfish exhibition in Japan after a refurbishment in 2021. 

In 2020, UWS Aquarium opened ‘Sky Aquarium Sorakin’ in Kagawa Prefecture and ‘Under Water Space’ in Yokohama World Porters.

UWS Aquarium Ga-Kyo opened on the 13th of July 2022 in the shopping complex Aqua City in Odaiba. 

This aquarium and entertainment venue aims to express Japanese traditions and legends. There are five unique aquarium spaces, with each space focusing on a different theme.

The neon-lit Mangekyo display.
The neon-lit Mangekyo display.

What to Expect at UWS Aquarium

UWS Aquarium expresses the idea of miyabi (the traditional Japanese sense of beauty). 

The aquarium uses Japanese legends and culture such as kaleidoscopes, the Dragon Palace Castle, and courtesan processions. There are five themed spaces where visitors can appreciate Japanese art combined with tropical fish. 

There is a large variety of different fish on display at UWS Aquarium. There are various species of goldfish such as Ping Pong Pearl, Shubunkin, and Bubble Eyes. 

There’s also a wide range of exotic and tropical fish such as Spotted Seahorse, Silver Arowana, Chinese Eel, Clownfish, and Glass Catfish.

I was impressed with the variety of fish on display. The fish were chosen for their unique beauty to match the changing themes. If you enjoy different fish species, the UWS Aquarium offers more than other art aquariums.

Areas at UWS Aquarium

The UWS Aquarium is split into five areas to represent different parts of Japanese culture. 

Wabisabi

The first display you will be greeted with is Wabisabi (Simplicity and Elegance). This display uses bonsai, driftwood, and crystals with Nishikigoi carp swimming between them. This Wabisabi display represents a scene of an ink painting found on Japanese hanging scrolls.

The Wabisabi Display
The Wabisabi Display

Oiran

The next display you will discover at UWS Aquarium is Oiran (Elite Courtesans). This area is inspired by a procession of Edo-era courtesans dressed in colourful and elaborate feather robes. 

This display gives off a neo-Japanesque mood. This area is full of goldfish and colourful koi in tanks of various shapes and sizes. 

This display is also decorated with classic Japanese parasols and motifs. This is one of the brightest areas and great for photo opportunities.

The colourful Orian display at UWS Aquarium
The colourful Oiran display at UWS Aquarium

Mangekyo

After the lightest display, visitors will enter the darkest display of the aquarium. 

The Mangekyo (Kaleidoscope) display features many large kaleidoscopes. This creates illusions of changing displays and multiplying fish. 

These kaleidoscopes also utilise several colours of lights to make each tank look different. 

This display is surrounded by black walls with neon paintings by Tsuyoshi Kumushi. They decorate the walls with reflecting lights and have mirror balls hanging from the ceiling.

One of the kaleidoscope features.
One of the kaleidoscope features.

Yuraku

One of the most interesting displays is the Yuraku (Pleasure) which is themed on Japan’s four seasons. Yuraku means ‘play and enjoy.’ 

In this exhibition, visitors can experience an interactive attraction. They mix modern technology projection mapping with traditional goldfish scooping games. 

In the Yuraku area, you can try to scoop a virtual goldfish and see it turn into a kanji fortune. 

This area has other attractions for visitors to enjoy, such as parasols, robes, and masks for photo opportunities. There is also a gachapon machine for fortunes with an area to hang them.

Ryugu

The final display of the UWS Aquarium and one of the most raved-about areas is Ryugu (Palace of the Dragon God). 

This display is based on the mythical Dragon Palace Ryugu-jo, the undersea palace of Ryujin in Japanese folklore. 

Ryugu is the main area of the aquarium and one of the most powerful and picture-esque. It’s filled with tanks, terrariums, lanterns, driftwood art, nature, light displays, and fish tank art to show the ultimate concept of Gakyo’s style and ideas.

The Ryugu display is based on the Palace of the Dragon God.
The Ryugu display is based on the Palace of the Dragon God.

How long to spend at UWS Aquarium

Most customers spend between 30 minutes and 1 hour at UWS Aquarium. This can increase if you appreciate watching the fish and admiring each piece of art. When I visited I spent over an hour inside, which included taking photos and videos as I walked around the space, 

Photography and Videos

Photography and videos are allowed and encouraged throughout UWS Aquarium. However, flash photography is strictly forbidden. This measure is in place to not startle the fish. 

There are certain areas with markings on the floor for optimal spots to capture the best photos. 

I recommend taking a good camera if you have one. At some points, the aquarium lighting can be quite dark and difficult to capture good photos.

Animal Welfare at UWS Aquarium in Odaiba

As someone who isn’t an expert on caring for fish, I will only point out some observations and share my opinion. After checking the official website I couldn’t see any section about welfare standards and educational purposes.

The UWS Aquarium Odaiba has received negative comments from some visitors with most expressing animal welfare concerns, particularly concerning overcrowding and small spaces. 

It has also received many positive reviews and it currently has a 4.1-star rating on Google Reviews. 

However, addressing the discussions surrounding animal welfare concerns that regular visitors and animal rights advocates have raised is essential.

Before you enter the aquarium, signs outside remind visitors not to tap on or touch the glass and not to use flash photography. This could disturb and startle the fish, so it’s great that they have these rules in place. Everyone appeared to obey the rules. However, I wondered if the tanks’ bright light effects could be stressful for the fish, especially in the kaleidoscope display. 

From what I could see, it also looked like the tanks were clean and well-maintained. Many of the tanks also looked larger than other Aquariums in Tokyo. The fish appeared to be well taken care of and checked on. I never noticed any dead fish floating in tanks or anything like that. 

If you are going to visit UWS Aquarium Ga-Kyo and any of this is a concern, you should do your research before you go. There are reviews on Google Reviews with people giving feedback on these issues. Visitors should go with an open mind and observe for themselves.

Fish swimming in a Moon Viewing themed display.
Fish swimming in a Moon Viewing themed display.

UWS Aquarium Ga-Kyo Cafes, Bars and Restaurants

The UWS Aquarium doesn’t have a cafe, bar, or restaurant. However, the aquarium is located in Aqua City Odaiba, which is a large shopping complex. 

There is a variety of different styles of restaurants and cafes across six floors, including a large food court area.

There are various Japanese restaurants, including two sushi restaurants, six ramen restaurants, a shabu shabu restaurant, a yakitori restaurant, and even a Hokkaido fried chicken restaurant.

For visitors looking to explore different world foods, there are four Italian restaurants, two Korean restaurants, an Indian restaurant, and a Chinese dim sum restaurant. 

If you want a light bite or something quick to eat, there are some cafes and fast food places available, including a Starbucks, a Wendy’s Kitchen, a Taco Bell, and a Hobson’s ice cream shop.

The Aqua City food court.
The Aqua City food court.

Gift Shop at UWS Aquarium

UWS Aquarium Odaiba has a small but unique gift shop selling various interesting merchandise.

There are very fashionable T-shirts with artwork of a fish on the front. 

The t-shirts are exclusive to UWS and are priced at 3800 yen (US$ 25.30). 

For visitors looking for Japanese gifts, there are Japanese masks for sale for 1200 yen (US$ 8). Some keychains are made to resemble Japanese hotel key holders for 900 yen (US$ 6).

For visitors looking for cheap souvenirs to take home with them, there’s an assortment of stickers for 300 yen (US$ 2) with different UWS Aquarium designs and logos and postcards for 200 yen (US$ 1.30). 

If you like Japanese Gashapon, there are 2 Gashapon machines with various random souvenirs, which will set you back 500 yen (US$ 3.30).

Gashapon machines offer unique souvenirs for 500 yen (US$ 3.30).
Gashapon machines offer unique souvenirs for 500 yen (US$ 3.30).

Top Tips for UWS Aquarium Ga-Kyo

As Tokyo is a largely populated city, there are times when UWS Aquarium can become crowded. It is most crowded on Saturdays, Sundays and during holidays. During long holidays such as summer and winter vacations, it will be busier on weekdays, too.

The busiest times for this Odaiba Aquarium are approximately between 11 am – 12 pm and 1 pm – 4 pm.  

When I visited, it was 7 pm on a Sunday, and it was mostly empty, with plenty of space to move and take photos.

Come outside of the peak times so you can enjoy your experience more and admire all the unique details and gorgeous fish. 

There is no toilet inside, so please visit before you enter. 

Also, there are plenty of great photo opportunities. Make sure your phone is charged to capture some great memories. If you have a camera, I recommend bringing that. 

The UWS Aquarium is a little small, and you aren’t allowed to return once you leave. 

When I visited, I walked around the aquarium, admiring all the displays and taking photos and videos. Once I realised I had arrived at the end, I decided to return to the start and walk the full aquarium again. This time, I put my camera away and spent time enjoying each display, and it helped me appreciate the fish even more.

Wheelchairs and strollers are both allowed into the UWS Aquarium Odaiba. Also, assistance dogs are permitted for people with disabilities. Please inform the staff at the entrance when you arrive.

The interactive goldfish scooping game.
The interactive goldfish scooping game.

Final Thoughts on UWS Aquarium

The UWS Aquarium is a beautiful experience and great for art lovers and people interested in fish. 

The aquarium is small and will likely only take 30-60 minutes to work your way around. It would be best to pair this activity with another Odaiba attraction.

For visitors to Japan looking to capture memorable or aesthetic Instagramable photographs, UWS Aquarium offers plenty of opportunities to do this. With their changing lights and moving fish, some displays also look great for videos.

As this Odaiba Aquarium is located in Aqua City, it is all indoor and a perfect way to escape the hot Japanese summer or stay dry during the rainy season.

While some visitors have complained that the UWS Aquarium is a little small, I think the ticket is relatively cheap and matches the experience. 

Suppose you take your time going around the full museum, admiring each display, taking plenty of photos, and trying out the interactive section. In that case, the ticket price seems fair, and it makes a short and relaxing experience.

Using one of the props for a photograph.
Using one of the props for a photograph.
UWS Aquarium Odaiba Tokyo
  • Easily purchase your UWS Aquarium Tokyo Ticket and receive a free origami gift from KKDay
  • Open admission on your selected date

Frequently Asked Questions about UWS Aquarium?

Now that you know everything about UWS Aquarium and whether it is worth visiting. You might still have a few last-minute questions before you book your ticket.

UWS Aquarium - Pinterest Image
UWS Aquarium – Pinterest Image

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