Why an aquarium?
Ultimately Mitsui decided that an aquarium was the best option, trumping a zoo or another sports stadium. Why? Firstly, aquariums are popular across all genders and age groups, guaranteeing stable visitor numbers. Secondly, the closing down of an old aquarium in Matsushima, 30 kilometers up the coast, meant that the municipality of Sendai was keen to open an alternative attraction.
In February 2013, Mitsui assembled a consortium to develop and manage the new aquarium. Each of the seven corporate participants has their own unique and valuable know-how. For instance, Yokohama Hakkeijima Inc., responsible for running the marine exhibits, has over 20 years' experience managing Yokohama Hakkeijima Sea Paradise, an attraction that draws 4 million visitors a year. Meanwhile, regional newspaper publisher Kahoku Shimpo Publishing Co. is ideally qualified to handle publicity. Mitsui's own responsibilities extend from managing the on-site restaurant and shop to finding sponsors for the aquarium and maintaining the overall facility.
The new aquarium has many competitive advantages. The biggest aquarium in the region with no competitor within 100 kilometers, it is located on the Tohoku bullet-train line and close to an expressway interchange. In addition to exhibits featuring sea animals from Tohoku and the rest of the world, there is also an "interactive beach" where kids can get up close with the animals.