Another type of aquarium

If you’ve been with me for awhile you know that we like to visit aquariums. We’ve been to some great ones and always look forward to them. Today we visited an ‘aquarium’ unlike any we have visited before.

It is called the ‘Art Aquarium’, and it is not new, even though it is in a new location. We watched a drama series on Netflix called ‘Fishbowl Wives‘ in which the Art Aquarium was featured, and then this summer the NHK series Japanology did a program about gold fish, and there it was again.

The new location is on the 8th floor of the Ginza Mitsukoshi department store (the kind of department store where the main floor escalators are flanked by Boucheron and Bulgari boutiques).

The exhibition is an exquisite little jewel, and is all about 金魚(kingyo) – aka gold fish.

Everything about the design was so interesting. Here – columns of small goldfish.

But with lights and mirrors there is suddenly and infinity of goldfish…

In this area the fish are displayed in small shallow tanks. The pedestals are wrapped in beautiful obi fabric.

I’m here just for the beautiful marbles, let alone the pretty fish! Each one is a little work of art.

In addition to light and mirrors for effect the magnification effect of water is used. Those fish are not actually as big as they look. The big glass ball is huge, but the fish are normal goldfish sized. (By the way – that’s my brother Bill, who joined us on our adventure yesterday!)

And there was every type of goldfish that you could imagine. Puffy faced ones.

Goldfish that looked like they had been hammered out of metal.

Same scene, different light, different mood.

And everything was perfect and pristine. All the glass was immaculate. There wasn’t a flake of fish food floating in the water, nor a single poop. All the fish looked healthy. In tanks with lots of bubbles they were feisty and in other bowls and tanks they drifted languidly. We were a bit boggled at the thought of the animal husbandry and cleaning that goes on to make this all so beautiful.

And yes, there was a Halloween themed area

Lost in Translation – the Sharon and Wilf edition

Not that we’ve been chomping at the bit, but one week after the Japanese government opened their borders to independent travelers – guess where we are! Usually Wilf has our big trips planned in great detail well in advance. And, in the past two years, he has discovered the world of city video bloggers on YouTube, which means he has been ‘visiting’ Tokyo virtually since the spring of 2020. This trip is not like the usual for us. We booked a hotel for a month in Tokyo and just showed up. We’ll figure the rest out as we go.

We are staying in the Asakusa district. Way, way back the city of Edo, the precursor to Tokyo, was founded in this area on the banks of the Sumida River. Besides the great temple of Senso-ji, which has endured through the many versions of the city, this was at one point an entertainment district and a horse racing area. There is still an amusement park, and venerable theatres. Wide modern streets cut through little areas of narrow streets packed with shops and restaurants. Much of this area was destroyed during WWII, so while people have lived here for a very long time, it is mostly a modern district.

Usually when we come to Japan we have Places to Go! Things to See! Trains to Catch! Food to Eat! We hit the ground running and get to it. I suppose we’ve been jet lagged, but we’ve been to busy to notice. Let’s just say the pace this time is more relaxed – and we’re both fighting the time difference. I’m writing this at 5:30 pm and trying to figure out how we’re going to stay awake until 9:00 so that we can sleep. And not be up at 4:00 like we were this morning

Thank heavens our hotel room is big enough that there is a bedroom with a door and a sitting room with a couch. At 40 square metres this place is positively capacious! Most regular hotel rooms are about half that. I’ll take pictures later and show you what the place is like.

When we were here in 2009 we found a shrine to the tanuki, the raccoon-dog patron saint of good times and prosperous business. I wrote about it here: Tanuki shrine. And here is an article about who he is and where he fits in Japanese culture. Every time we come back to Tokyo we make a visit to the shrine to say hello. And we have learned that there is a small street in Asakusa with little lampost shrines to various aspects of tanuki-ness. It is called Tanuki street and it runs between Hoppi and Orange street.

Looking a little bleary, I’m saying hello to Mr & Mrs Tanuki

All you have to do is look up to know you are on Tanuki Street.