As its name implies, Hakone-en Aquarium is located inside Hakone-en Garden on the edge of Lake Ashi. Some people think it only houses creatures from Lake Ashi, but that is not the case. Situated at an altitude of 723m above sea level, Hakone-en Aquarium is home to Japan’s highest seawater aquarium, a freshwater aquarium, and the Baikal Seal Square.
The first area you will encounter is the Seawater Pavilion, which features a massive seven-meter deep open-air aquarium in the middle of the room. The 1,255 tons of seawater were trucked in from Sagami Bay, and the tank is home to many creatures, including tropical fish and rays. Every day at 13:45, you can catch the underwater show and watch as a diver feeds the fish. (A 10:15 show is also held on weekends, holidays, and during busy times of the year.) The beautiful scene is one you’ll want to post on Instagram!
There is also a bridge aquarium where you can watch Japanese sardines swim overhead, a shark tank, an enclosure where you watch king penguins and macaroni penguins hanging out on the rocks and swimming around, and an aquarium full of vibrant colored tropical fish. The funky-looking spotted garden eels and orange-barred garden eels are also very popular.
In the Freshwater Pavilion, you can see fish from Lake Ashi and freshwater fish from other parts of Japan. There is also a tank of large fish from the Amazon River, including the pirarucu, which can grow beyond 3m in length, making it one of the largest freshwater fish in the world.
The last zone is Baikal Seal Square where you can watch the seal show. While the show may not be as over-the-top as a killer whale or dolphin show, you can enjoy watching the cute, chubby Baikal seals do tricks for15 minutes. (Shows start at 11:00 and 13:00 on weekdays. A 15:30 show is also held on weekends, holidays, and during busy times of the year.)
(Information current as of November 7, 2017)
Address: 139 Motohakone, Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimo-gun, Kanagawa Prefecture
Tel.: 0460-83-1151 (Hakone-en main line)
Admission: Adults ¥1,500
Open: 9:00 – 17:00 (Hours may vary depending on the season. Last entry is 40 minutes before closing.)
Access: 65-minute ride on the Izu-Hakone bus bound for Kojiri/Hakone-en. Get off at the Hakone-en or The Prince Hakone Lake Ashinoko stop. 25-minute drive from Hakone Honbako.
Official homepage: http://www.princehotels.co.jp/amuse/hakone-en/suizokukan/