Maritime life – an immediate experience
The Kasai Rinkai Kōen (葛西臨海公園 / かさいりんかいこうえん), “Kasai’s Park at the Sea”, with its 81 hectare the largest park in the city district of Tōkyō, is something of an exception. The land it is occupying was created in an laborious land reclamation process between 1972 and 1992 – and you obviously have to be an expert in land reclamation to be able to recognise that this area of land hadn’t been there for centuries. Have a step-by-step look at the changes the coastline underwent during this 20 year long process (a click on one of the icons below opens a slide-show):
The largest section of the park that was opened in 1989 already is dedicated to a bird sanctuary. Even though this sanctuary was completed only in 1994 it looks like an example of unspoilt nature. If you bring along a decent portion of patience you can watch quite a number of wild birds there. A path crossing the middle of the bird sanctuary has been shielded in such a way that the birds are not being disturbed by visitors, yet the visitors are able to have a close look at remote sections of the bird refuge.
At the same time when the bird sanctuary was opened (1994) also a rather futuristic, glass arcade at the approach to the sea shore was handed over to the public. It “listens” to the beautiful name of “Crystal View”. During the 20 years of its existence this shiny white, light-flooded building has been exposed to nature’s forces. Carpeted floors that have been bleached beyond recognition of their original colour (where else, but in Japan, would one use carpeted floors in a public space anway?) and metal components that pay tribute to the fact that the air is quite salty around here, demonstrate that even concrete and steel are not made for an eternity. Nevertheless, the building is still most impressive (especially the interiour of it) – and it is pleasantly cooled down during the hot summer months.
The Ferris wheel that was opened in 2001, is called “Diamonds & Flowers Wheel” (ダイヤと花の大観覧車 / ダイヤとはなのだいかんらんしゃ) and with its 117 metres of height, it is presently the tallest in the country (at the time of construction it was even the second largest in the world!) and outshines its “sister” on the neighbouring island, Odaiba (also a man-made island) by 2 metres. One round on the Ferris wheel takes about 17 minutes (for further details see below).
Furthermore, there are two offshore (man-made) islands, one of which can be reached via an impressive pedestrians’ bridge. This island even features two long beaches. However, bathing is usually not permitted here – well, the Tōkyō Bay is anyway no “prime location”, when it comes to swimming and snorkeling.
The main attaction at the Kasai Rinkai Park, however, is the Tōkyō Sea Life Park (official name: Kasai Rinkai Suizokuen / 葛西臨海水族園 / かさいりんかいすいぞくえん), which was opened in 1989 – just at the same time when the largest part of the Kasai Rinkai Park was handed over to the public. It is most likely the most popular aquarium in Tōkyō. And its most breathtaking feature is a 2,200-tons-aquarium that is home a shoals of tuna and bonito. In addition to tropical fish, penguin and other marine animals from polar regions, the park is dedicated to the faunal biodiversity of the Tōkyō Bay.
Should you like to see some animated pictures, have a look at a small videoclip which I took during my recent visit:
And even if you are not interested in maritime wildlife, the Tōkyō Sea Life Park’s main building may still be of interest for you, as its architecture is quite extraordinary.
In any case, don’t miss the outdoor facilities a the Tōkyō Sea Life Park. Here you can gain some insight in the life in rivers and lakes. Particularly interesting: The cross-section installation of a mountain river.
Opening hours / Admission fees for the Kasai Rinkai Kōen:
Open daily / no specific opening hours / no admission fee
How to get there:
Take the JR Keiyō line (JR 京葉線 / けいようせん) to Kasai Rinkai Kōen station (葛西臨海公園 / かさいりんかいこうえん); travel time from Tōkyō station: 13 minutes, 220 ¥.
The park stretches out in southern direction just from the south exit of the station.
Kasai Rinkai Park Service Center
Opening hours of the Tōkyō Sea Life Parks:
Daily (except Wednesdays) from 9.30 am to 5:00 pm (last entry: 4:00 pm)
Should a national holiday fall on a Wednesday, the park stays closed on the following working day instead.
(closed during the New Year holidays, December 29th to January 1st)
Admission fee for the Tōkyō Sea Life Park:
Adults (16 to 64 years of age): 700 ¥
Seniors (65 years of age or older): 350 ¥
Students (13 to 15 years of age): 250 ¥ *
Children (up to 12 years of age): free
* No admission fee for junior high school students living or studying in Tōkyō.
* Groups of 20 or more persons receive a discount of 20%.
* Free entry for handicapped persons and one accompanying person.
* Free entry on October 10th (anniversary of the aquarium) and May 4th (Greenery Day) and October 1st (Tōkyō citicens’ day)
Opening hours of the Diamonds & Flowers Ferris Wheel:
Monday to Friday: 10:00 am to 8:00 pm
Saturday, Sunday, Holiday and during the spring- and summer holidays: 10:00 am to 9:00 pm
(last ticket sale until 20 minutes before closure)
Closed on the 4th and 5th Wednesday in January and every Wednesday in February (falls a national holiday on a Wednesday, the Ferris wheel will be closed on the following working day instead)
Admission fee for the Diamonds & Flowers Ferris Wheel:
General admission (from 3 years of age): 700 Yen
Groups of 20 or more persons: 630 Yen
Seniors (from 70 years of age): 400 Yen
Handicapped persons (+ one accompanying person): 350 Yen
(prices per person)