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Tuesday, June 5, 2007 5:47 am

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The world's largest indoor beach.

Photo: Sheraton Seagaia Resort

The world’s largest indoor water park: Seagaia Ocean Dome, Miyazaki

There is nothing worse than Japanese summer. If the weather isn’t too hot, it’s probably just because the rain season hasn’t quite ended yet. Not to mention the suffocating moisture! And say the improbable happens, as it occasionally does, and one day the weather is absolutely perfect, you’ll be damned if you can find a nice beach where you can spend it.

There is a solution to this dilemma and it is spelled “Ocean Dome”, and is situated in Miyazaki, southern Japan. The Ocean Dome is, as it happens, the world’s largest indoor water park, measuring a massive 300 meters in length and 100 meters in width. The dome features a retractable roof - on sunny days, it’s open, on less sunny days, it’s closed, but even then the ceiling provides you with a perfect blue sky. The air temperature is always kept at hot, but not too hot 30°C (85°F), and the water temperature at 28°C.

If this somehow isn’t enough to whet your appetite, how about if we add a flame-spitting volcano, hi-tech wave machinery and crushed white marble sand, almost identical to the real thing except it doesn’t stick to your body quite as much? Wow. I guess only a complete sucker would have built the world’s most technologically advanced indoor beach and then spoilt it all by going for utterly boring, totally unimaginative REAL sand.

But wait, there is actually even more to it. The Ocean Dome is only one part of the Sheraton Seagaia Resort, which except for the obvious hotel (Sheraton Grande Ocean Resort), also has tennis courts as well as golf courses on the premises, and there is even a zoo nearby. A zoo? Should we expect robot animals, considering what we’ve been told of this magical place so far? Nah, sorry to make you disappointed. But the zoo does keep an impressive collection of animals, ranging from ring-tailed lemurs to indian wood storks (for a more detailed list of animals, click here).

Miyazaki is only a breath away by plane, 1 hour 30 minutes from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport and 1 hour 5 minutes from Kansai International Airport. Buses to Seagaia leave from Miyazaki Airport as well as from the JR Miyazaki station, and take less than 30 minutes.

Detailed transportation and access information:
To Miyazaki
From Miyazaki to Sheraton Seagaia Resort

Ocean Dome prices
Summer admission: adults ¥2600, children ¥1600, children under 4 ¥800.
3 months pass (unlimited admission): adults ¥8000, children/children under 4 ¥4000. Guests at the Sheraton Grande Ocean Resort get a ¥300 discount.
Board Rental Fee: ¥1,000
Hours: Between 21/7-31/8, 10:00-20:00. Other dates, 10:00-17:00
Official site: Sheraton Seagaia Resort

Miyazaki City Zoo
Admission: adults ¥800, Junior High School Students ¥400, Children (4 years to Elementary School age) ¥300
Hours 9:00-17:00, closed on Wednesdays
Official site: Miyazaki City Phoenix Zoo

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