by Debby Kuo
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Ocean Expo Park

The Ocean Expo Park, located to the north of Okinawa Island, is ideal for the whole family. It was built in 1976, on the former grounds of the Okinawa International Ocean Expo Chamber. The park is styled to the theme of sunshine, flowers and the ocean. This is fitting as the natural paradise is home to luscious greenery, bright flowers and the beautiful blue ocean. A visit is usually part of a half or full day tour from Naha city.

Churaumi Aquarium is the main attraction at the park. The Kuroshio Tank houses a diverse range of marine life. There are giant, eight-meter-long whale sharks and manta rays. Whale shark feeding shows are held twice a day. Just behind the tank, there is a high definition movie theater showing educational films about Okinawa’s marine life.

As you walk about the park, you will find other great attractions including the Manatee house, the Sea Turtle house, Emerald Beach, the Oceanic Culture Museum, the Native Okinawan Village, the Tropical Dream Center, as well as the Tropical and Subtropical Aboretum.

In the Native Okinawan village, you will find exhibits on the regions of Okinawa during the Ryukyu reign. Take the opportunity to play the sanshin (an Okinawan string instrument). It is known for its cheerful twang. Also, see if you can recognize the 22-plant species mentioned in ‘Omor Soshi’ – Okinawa’s oldest collection of folk songs.