Oarai’s coastal location offers a wealth of recreational opportunities including swimming, camping, marine sports and fishing, and provides the fresh seafood found in many local restaurants. In addition to its beaches and coastline, Oarai is also home to many cultural attractions.
One of the most popular tourist destinations in Oarai is ‘Aquaworld’ aquarium. The aquarium features nearly 580 different species of sea life, birds and small mammals, including the most species of shark anywhere in Japan. Visitors can get up close and personal with the animals at feeding time, dolphin and sea lion shows and an interactive touching pool.
There is also a food court and souvenir shop with local products.
The aquarium can be reached by car, or from Oarai Station by the Oarai loop bus ‘kaiyu-go’ or rental bike.
Waku Waku Children's Science Museum
The ‘Waku Waku’ Children’s Science Museum is an interactive science museum themed around the ocean. Visitors can try out fun experiments and learn about unusual scientific phenomena. The museum also runs events throughout the year.
'Umi no Daigaku' Culture and Environment Learning Programme
Located on Oarai’s Sunbeach, Umi no Daigaku offers a wide variety of activities and courses such as fishing, surfing, seafood cookery classes and canoeing.
The symbol of Oarai, Marine Tower stands 60m tall and offers panoramic views of the Oarai coastline.
Thanks to its white sand, clear water and backdrop of pine trees, Oarai Sunbeach is one of the most popular beaches in Kanto region. There are a wide variety of restaurants, barbeque areas and campsites located on or near the beach and opportunities to try water and beach sports.
Oarai’s other main beach is a rocky beach surrounded by large rocks home to a variety of sea-life and ideal for rockpooling.
Oarai also offers a variety of watersports such as surfing and yachting, as well as golf, tennis and beach volleyball and tennis.
Yukkura Health Centre
Yukkura Health Centre features a hot spring, pool, sauna and small gym.
‘Yukkura’ means ‘slowly’ in local dialect. Yukkura’s mother and child tortoise logo symbolises a slow and peaceful life.
■Cultural and Historical Sites
Oarai is home to a rich cultural and historical legacy. Oarai Isozaki Shrine is popular with pilgrims coming to pray for safety at home and at sea, but many people come simply to see the famous ‘torii’ or shrine gate which stands in the sea near the main shrine.
Shrine Gate - Kamiiso no torii
It is said that a long time ago a god came down from heaven at the spot where this shrine gate now stands. Many people choose to visit at sunrise when the sun can be seen rising directly behind the gate.
Ancient Gingko Tree
This 400-year-old Gingko tree is 24m tall and has a circumference of 4.4m. The tree is considered very precious and is specified as a cultural asset by Ibaraki Prefecture.
Oarai Isosaki Shrine was founded in 856A.D. and is believed to be dedicated to the God of Home and Marine Safety. Although the shrine was burnt down around 1558-70, it was rebuilt in 1690 by Tokugawa Mitsukuni.
With a height of 16m, the main ‘torii’ or shrine gate is the largest in the Kanto region.
Museum of the Dawn of Modern Japan
Located in a pine forest, this museum houses artefacts from the late Tokugawa and early Meiji periods of Japanese history (1853 – early 1900s). The end of the feudal Tokugawa era and the beginning of the Meiji era was time of great importance and change in Japan, and can be said to mark the beginning of modern Japan. This museum houses letters, paintings and calligraphy by key figures from the era such as Tokugawa Yoshinobu.
Iwafune no Sekishou
This monument marks one of the ‘Eight Views of Mito’ and offers a spectacular view of the area, especially at sunset.
Ancient Tomb - Kofun
In the centre of Oarai lies Hisagetsuka, a large keyhole-shaped burial tomb which dates to the early 5th century C.E. It is the most richly decorated tomb mound in the Ibaraki area and has yielded many archaeological finds.