I have a lot of feelings about zoos. My trip to the Tennoji Zoo in Osaka a few years ago was a horribly depressing venture, and in general I think zoos bring animals to climates that don't suit them, place them in enclosures that are inadequate, and don't allow for the kind of socialization that animals need. I'm sure there are good zoos out there, but I'd much rather go to a wildlife refuge instead where the focus is on protecting and providing for the animals rather than on making money.
That being said, aquariums are a bit different. They don't put me on the defensive nearly as much as zoos do. The only thing that bothered me a bit was the dolphin tank, because dolphins are so smart that I can't imagine they don't get bored swimming in circles all day.
The Kaiyukan is essentially a downward spiral the focuses on a giant tank in the middle with smaller tanks around the outside. The pride of the aquarium is the rather friendly-looking whale shark that lives in the main tank along with several dozen manta rays and exotic fish. Presumably none of them try to eat each other, but one can never be sure. Like everything in Kyoto and Osaka, the crowds eventually wore us out and we left, leaving me with but one question:
Is there anything cuter than an otter?