Part laser light show, part aquatic extravaganza, Art Aquarium is the newest take on the old idea of keeping cool during the steamy Japanese summertime by contemplating goldfish bowls.
Over 3 million people have visited this summer-long exhibition since it started in 2008, and now I see why: giant artfully-designed aquariums use inset lenses, unusual faceted angles and ever-changing choreographed spotlights to turn tens of thousands of goldfish into living art. Set in a dark gallery, the “goldfish bowls” glow like jewels, the fish inside mesmerizing visitors like a living kaleidoscope. Unusual hybrids have their own room, with perfect specimens of each variety showcased in lozenges of colored light.
This year, then Nihonbashi Art Aquarium runs from July 11 – September 23, but every year it returns from mid-July to the end of September. The only difference between the daytime hours and “Night Aquarium” is that they sell drinks and have DJed music playing at night.
Hours: Art Aquarium (11:00 – 19:00), Night Aquarium (19:00 – 23:30)
Entrance fee: Adults: ¥1,000, Children: ¥600, Under 3: Free
Location: Nihonbashi Mitsui Hall, Tokyo (in the Coredo complex) Muromachi 2-2-1, Nihonbashi
Nearest subway station: Mitsukoshi-mae
Note: Some people object to living creatures being exhibited like this, but aside from the changing lighting, the conditions seemed better than in some aquariums I have visited, and certainly many pet stores. The aquariums were sparkling clean, the fish lively, and I only saw one (among tens of thousands) that was belly up.
Read a novel set in Tokyo…
Writing mystery books set in Tokyo is mostly what I do, but I also blog about the odd stuff I see every day in Japan. I'm a graduate of Stanford University and the Sendagaya Japanese Institute in Tokyo, and a member of the International Thriller Writers, the Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters In Crime. When I'm not in Tokyo, I live in San Francisco. I also host a travel site called The Tokyo Guide I Wish I'd Had, so if you're headed to Japan and want to check out the places I take my friends when they're in town, take a look!