According to New York Times Bestselling Author Dan Buettner, Okinawa Japan is designated as one of five “Blue Zone” regions. Alongside Okinawa (Japan), Sardinia (Italy), Nicoya (Costa Rica), Icaria (Greece), and Loma Linda, California are considered the healthiest and most of all the longest living regions in the world. Some of the other notable facts include:
“Okinawans have less cancer, heart disease and dementia than residents in other parts of the world, while Okinawan women live longer than anywhere else on Earth.” -Wikipedia
So, what is their secret?
According to Buettner and his research, Okinawans share the following six characteristics with the other long-living regions of the world, they are:
Constant moderate physical activity
What I found most interesting was that specifically, Okinawans excelled in Likeability, having a high consumption of Turmeric and perhaps most importantly in our highly stressful world – they feel “No time urgency.” Is it because they live in an isolated island community, on the least populated of all Japanese islands or feeling security while having over 26,000 US military personnel stationed there?
So I visited there to find out!
Not really, I went there to visit a military friend who spoke highly of a very impressive Churaumi Aquarium, which we just had to check out. Until 2005, this aquarium proudly held the title of the World’s 2nd largest aquarium, with a capacity of 2.64 million gallons. (Nowadays, China’s Chimelong Ocean Kingdom holds the record with 12.9 million gallons). Churaumi Aquarium also boasts a few firsts in its humble repertoire: the first to captively breed whale sharks with the aim to learn more about their biology and ecology; as well as the first large coral reef exhibit; and one of the largest species of rays!
There are four breath-taking floors for visitors to explore and photograph:
4F: Event Hall, The Coral Sea, The Sea of Tropical Fish, Exploring the Kuroshio Sea.
3F: (Aquarium Entrance): Life in the “Inoh”, The Coral Sea, The Sea of Tropical Fish, Coral Reef World, Coral Reef Gallery, Freshwater Life
2F: Churaumi Theater, The Kuroshio Sea, Shark Research Lab
1F: Whale Shark and Manta Ray Center, Exploring the Kuroshio Sea, Aqua Room, Deep Sea Experience Room, Deep Sea, Ocean Planetarium, Aqua Lab.
My favorite section was definitely on the 2nd floor with its high def marine life Churaumi Theater, Aqua Room and the 114 feet (35 meters) wide tank full of whale sharks, manta rays, yellowfin tuna, skipjack tuna, and other gorgeous sea creatures. That’s me with a raised hand ↓
Once outside the aquarium, there are other sights to explore, such as the Manatee Pool, Sea Turtle Pool, Dolphin Lagoon and Okichan Theater. The Churaumi Aquarium is a part of the Ocean Expo Park, where you can also explore other worthy destinations like Tropical and Subtropical Arboretum, Tropical Dream Center, Native Okinawa Village, and Oceanic Culture Museum. NOTE: Only the Arboretum and the Native Village do not require additional fees to enter.
There are also a few recommended Photo Spots by the staff at the Ocean Expo Park:
Sunset Square View Resthouse
Tropical Dream Center (Observation Deck AND Courtyard)
Native Okinawan Village
Okichan (Dolphin) Theater
Three locations are available to you to get some lunch/dinner/snack. They are the Inoh Restaurant and Ocean Blue Cafe.
Blue Manta Shop offers an extensive collection of sweets, stuffed animals, t-shirts and other souvenirs, original to the aquarium.
The Ocean Expo Park, which surrounds the aquarium has more of a culinary variety: Tropical fruit cafe Squall (original pineapple pork rice bowl can be found here,) Central Gate Snack, Okichan Parlor (taste the genuine Okinawa soba here,) Cafe Tida (where you can try Okinawan purple yam gelato,) and Beach Snack.
Churuami Aquarium Hours of OperationRegular（October-February）8:30～18:30 Summer（March-September）8:30～20:00
8:30～16:00（general admission）Adults1,880yenHigh school students1,250yenElementary and junior high school students620yenChildren under 6Free
16:00～until last admission（After 16:00 Ticket）Adults1,310yenHigh school students870yenElementary and junior high school students430yenChildren under 6Free
So you can see that by showing up after 4 pm, you can get a discounted fare, but your time at the aquarium will be pretty limited because there is SO MUCH MORE TO SEE!
905-0206 424 Ishikawa, Motobu-cho, Kunigami-gun, Okinawa Prefecture TEL：0980-48-3748
Definitely devote a whole day to visiting this wander, because it takes a while to get to. It took us about 1.5 hours from where we were staying. You could take a rental car, an express bus, a taxi or a local bus. Approximate times vary but allow for 2-3 hours by car from Naha Airport or 2:20-3:30 hours by bus. Check out this helpful transportation guide here.
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