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Release | Daisuke Sato

The oldest aquarium in Hokkaido “Muroran Public Aquarium” is just right for a casual trip!

Where is the nostalgic place for adults and satisfying playground for kids? I found one of the places in Muroran City! 


It is, in fact, the oldest aquarium in Hokkaido! 

外観▲The big Ferris wheel and a drawing of a black fish with white dot catch our attention. The parking in front is spacious, which is a great point. 

Muroran has flourished as an iron city in the past. Many of the buildings, shrines, and temples at that time are still used now. 
This aquarium, it used to be called “Hokkaido Public Aquarium,” was established in Muroran as the first aquarium in Hokkaido in 1953. 
After that, the operation transferred from Hokkaido to Muroran City in 1962 and changed the name to “Muroran Public Museum,” 

外壁▲There is Muroran City’s character “Kujiran” and aquarium friends on the outside wall. 

Now there is “Michi No Eki Mitara Muroran” across the road, but the area was sea at that time. “Tiny Train,” which is still a popular attraction today, used to run on railways built over the ocean! 

According to a funny director of the aquarium, Tadaakki Higashi, “Some parts of the buildings including the aquarium and our office, most parts of the building is left as it was in the past.” What? I can’t believe it.
Not only fans of marine lives but also lovers of historical buildings also should visit here one time. 

館長▲Windows at different heights, on the right back of director Higashi smiling with toys, is the proof of the enlargement of the building. 

Their exhibition style is classic with standard square rooms. I can feel this is the oldest aquarium in Hokkaido. 
They sometimes connect small rooms depending on exhibitions.

1F▲A huge whale swims above on the first floor.  

They exhibit familiar and delicious (!) fishes caught near Muroran such as Atka mackerel, pointhead flounder, and octopus depending on seasons on the first floor. Showing familiar fishes that they often have for meals dedicates to the cultivation of children’s aesthetic sensibility. 
On the second floor, they exhibit tropical fish and skeletal specimen of whales that were washed in Muroran.

スケソウダラ ▲There were a tremendous amount of Alaska pollacks in the cylindrical water tank. 

クラゲ▲Jellyfish are popular because it looks beautiful, but they exhibit with their comments about the pain when they were bitten. 

くらげ2▲The fish tank to change the lights in colors visitors choose is also popular.

By the way, fish in the tanks are stocked by staffs of the aquarium or local fishermen.


What is “Skilfish,” the symbol of the aquarium? 

The symbol of the Muroran Public Museum is “Skilfish” that we are not very familiar. 
Everyone in Muroran loves skilfish sashimi! Not like that. They dedicate skilfish to shrines in Obon holidays and new years! Not like that. In fact, it’s not a familiar fish to people in Muroran at all. 

According to Teruo Sakaguchi, the manager of caretakers, who knows 50 years out of 60 years history of Muroran Public Aquarium:

坂口さん▲The so-called guardian god of the aquarium, Mr. Sakaguchi. Not many people work for a single place for 50 years! 

“Long time ago, someone took fries that they found in Urakawa-Cho in Hidaka Region for coincidence and they bred. As they were breeding, they found out that it was a deep-sea fish called Skilfish. Because deep-sea fishes are rare, they started involving in breeding more seriously as a symbol character to promote the aquarium. They live quite long as a fish, and we have the record that the one which lived for 35 years grew to 1.5 meters in length.” 

I was surprised by the episode of skilfish and the characteristic of people in Muroran! 

By the way, the character of aquarium comes from fries of skilfish. 

こどもボウズ▲Wow, it’s cuter than I thought! (Muroran Public Aquarium provided the picture) 

The name sounds quite scary, but it actually looks quite handsome.

おとなボウズ▲It’s kind of handsome like a foreign actor. (Muroran Public Aquarium provided the picture) 

* By the way, I heard it’s good. I have heard a scary rumor that it has too much fat that fat keeps leaking from your butt if you have too much of them. Someone might have gotten mixed up with fishes which contain fat that humans can’t digest, such as oilfish. (From writer Sato’s experience) 


The secret of its popularity is that everything is “just right”

Some families visit this oldest aquarium in Hokkaido from Sapporo on weekends. I could understand why when I once visited here. 
This place is “just right” for people with kids in many ways.  

1. The fee is just right! 

The fee is incredibly cheap, considering the economy today. Entrance fee for adult is 400 yen, a high school student is 200 yen, and children under middle school is 100 yen (free for Muroran citizens)!
They also offer annual passports for 1,000 yen. 
Also, the fee for attractions in the amusement park is set to 80 yen to 200 yen for one time. Because it’s very cheap, the price is just right for visiting many times! 

豆汽車▲Shinkansen version of Tiny Train existed in the past. 

遊園地▲There are many attractions with nostalgic feeling other than the amusement park! 

2. The size is just right! 

It is about 10 mins to walk from the edge to edge of the aquarium. Although it’s only 10 mins, it’s enough for kids to play around and parents can keep eyes on their kids in this size. People doing picnics on the grass on sunny days make the aquarium peaceful. 

観覧車より▲The view from the Ferris wheel. The green line is for penguins’ pared. 

あざらし▲You can watch penguins, seals, and sea lions outside. You should check out cute performances, too! 

Michi No Eki Mitara Muroran” across the road re-opened in 2019 and restaurant area has newly built. You can also visit there to have lunch. 

3. The thrill of the amusement park is just right! 

The amusement park with a somewhat nostalgic atmosphere offers attractions such as merry-go-around, Tiny Trains, Ferris wheel, mini electric car, etc. Everything is not dangerous, so parents can relax to watch their kids play. Isn’t it a big plus? 
However, the duration of teacups is 2 mins, which is more than the standard 1.5 mins. Especially adults should be careful not to spin too much!
They also offer a pool to touch small crabs, starfish, sea cucumber, etc. Adults feel safe, but it would be an adventure for children. They offer thrills just right! 

タッチプール▲There is a washstand near the pool, so wash your hands thoroughly after touching marine lives. 

As I said, fishes that they exhibit are familiar ones we often have at home. Those make the atmosphere that is just right.
Also, they open aquarium at night with local volunteers about two times a year. The aquarium becomes magical, very different from the atmosphere during the day! Check out the schedule of the year at their official website:
Muroran Public Aquarium’s official website

Muroran Public Aquarium is closed during winter. They open from April 26 to October 14 in 2019. Why don’t you add this aquarium to your list of places to visit this summer? 

集合▲The excellent relationship of staffs is another attraction of Muroran Public Museum! 
  • The oldest aquarium in Hokkaido “Muroran Public Aquarium” is just right for a casual trip!

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Daisuke Sato