Art Aquarium Retells an Old Japanese Tradition in a New Way

ByJason Gatewood
Jul 30, 2019

Art Aquarium Retells an Old Japanese Tradition in a New Way

Anyone with a penchant for Japanese history and a love of Japanese artistry will recognize the Japanese Goldfish, “Kingyo,” as a cultural motif instantly. From anime and manga, high fashion, and the occasional tattoo; kingyo cultural significance dates back to when they were kept as rare novelties of the rich and wealthy of the Edo Period 500+ years ago. Starting in the Meiji era though, people started keeping them as pets and even based a popular festival game, kingyo sukui or “goldfish scooping”, on the premise that if you’re dexterous enough to scoop a fish out using a flimsy scoop, you get to keep your new pet! For those of us lacking the space and/or time to give to the golden swimmers in our homes, there is the Art Aquarium exhibits.

All that and a kettle of fish

Make that a TANK of fish. Self-proclaimed “aquarist” Hidetomo Kimura combines visual, aural and spatial art along with goldfish to create a traveling pop-up gallery like no other. The Tokyo exhibition is being held at Nihonbashi Mitsui Hall for the last time after a run of 8 years, the largest ever collection of 10,000 goldfish is on display along with a compilation of artwork to complement it. A combination of crystal, glass, paint, light, sound, and water immerses all senses into a new world where the fish seem to dance in mid-air.

The nighttime is the right time

During the day you can check out the exhibits at your leisure, but after 7 pm most nights, the Night Aquarium comes alive and the venue takes on the style of an Old Edo Era saloon with a 21st-century makeover. Enjoy Kyo-Mai traditional geisha and maiko performances one evening or a selection of the hottest club DJs the next. Check the calendar for details.

The Details…

Nihonbashi Mitsui Hall
5F, COREDO Muromachi 1
Nihonbashi Muromachi 2-2-1, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
By Train: Mitsukoshi-Mae station [G,Z]; Shin-Nihonbashi station [JO]
Dates & Times: Now until 23 Sept 2019 Everyday. 11am~10pm, Saturdays until 11 pm. Special Event Days have a slightly different schedule; check this page for info.
Ticket Fees: ¥1000; 12yrs and younger, ¥600; 3yrs and below, Free. Please access pre-order and discount ticket information here.


Images Courtesy

About the author

Jason Gatewood subscriber

Our Tokyo based collaborator is a tech nerd, Japanophile, train nut, and a veritable fountain of information on Japan. His current goal is to watch Evangelion and actually "get it", sing every permutation of "Hotel California" at any karaoke gathering, ride every bullet train line, and sample all varieties of ramen throughout Japan. Catch more of his musings at ·