One Fish, Two Fish, Gold Fish, Blue Fish

If I wanted to be really true to my day’s activity last Saturday, the title of this post would’ve been “One Thousand Fish, Two Thousand Fish, Gold Fish, Blue Fish,” but that didn’t exactly fit with the Dr. Seussian rhythm of the original.

Thankfully, Tokyo’s cooled off a bit since my last trip down. Then again, this time I wised up and researched some indoor activities to keep me busy and out of the sun. I took a mini-vacation last week, and since my flight out of Narita didn’t leave until ten p.m., I had plenty of time to kill in the city.

Most of my morning was spent in Mitsui Hall in Nihombashi, an area near Tokyo’s central train station. Every year there’s an exhibit called “Art Aquarium” held in Tokyo, and I’d planned on it being my way to beat the heat today. It’s exactly what it sounds like it would be: art made out of aquariums.

Illuminated goldfish, turned bright pink by the lights.
Illuminated goldfish, turned bright pink by the lights.

Well, aquariums and the hundreds of 金魚 (kingyou, goldfish) that occupy them. “Art Aquarium” is the brainchild of Hidetoma Kimura, and it combines rippling water, shimmering fish scales, and pulsating lights into a truly unique spectacle. If nothing else, you’ll see goldfish, the childhood pets that you won at carnivals and carted home in frail plastic bags until they died a week later, in an entirely new way.

Goldfish, goldfish, everywhere.
Goldfish, goldfish, everywhere.

That’s part of the draw of “Art Aquarium.” Let’s face it. goldfish, with their goofy, bulging eyes, are not Mother Nature’s most beautiful aquatic creation. But in this exhibit, they’re the stars of the show, the stage of which is set by an ever-shifting spectrum of colored lights.

The pinnacle of the exhibition is technically an eight-meter installation that projects images of Japan’s changing seasons over a wall of swimming goldfish. It was definitely a striking image, but for me, it wasn’t the highlight.

Part of the central installation, which displayed the four seasons of Japan.
Part of the central installation, which displayed the four seasons of Japan.
Summer of Goldfish
Summer of Goldfish

That title went to a pyramid of fishbowls that was both a beautiful tower and a gorgeous fountain. I could’ve sat there for at least an hour, probably, just watching the lights cycle through their gentle rainbow.

I would've been content to sit and watch all day.
I would’ve been content to sit and watch all day.

IMG_8042

At night, “Art Aquarium” shifts gears and becomes a nightclub of sorts, complete with fully functioning bar and music to match. I’m not sure how I’d feel making small talk with a date when surrounded by hundreds of gaping, googly-eyed 金魚…but by day, at least, it was a pretty striking sight.

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