Goldfish, Goldfish, Everywhere

Although by now we’re all sort of feeling like “don’t let the door hit you on the way out, you miserably hot & humid Japanese summer,” some of the various celebrations of goldfish are lingering on in a most delightful way until the end of September. Here they are!


This summer is the 10th anniversary of Art Aquarium, so they took that as an excuse to bring back a bunch of the favorite aquariums from past years, with new varieties of goldfish inside. I didn’t really mind ogling them again, though, you know?
As usual, there was a constant light & laser show, changing the look of each aquarium faster than you can snap the shutter
This one was new this year (and became the model for the 10th Anniversary souvenir – a mini version that sits on your desk and changes color while tiny plastic goldfish are buffeted around inside. At ¥5000 a pop, hmm. Maybe not.)
New this year were goldfish bowls sitting on buffet-table-sized aquariums, all made with a traditional Edo cut-glass technique
But even though most of the oohs and aahs come from the room with the schmantzy light show, I think my favorite aquariums were these jewel-like lozenges that constantly brimmed and overflowed with sparkly-clear water, showcasing rare varieties of goldfish
Naturally, there’s a cafe at the exit. I loved these goldfishy cappucinos…
…although desserts with theme sweeties in the jello part struck me as unexpectedly unappetizing. I’m sure they didn’t actually TASTE like fish, but…

This year’s exhibit was a bit less thrilling than the last time I went, but it was still fantastic, and I bet most of my jadedness was because I wasn’t experiencing it for the first time. If you’re in Tokyo and you’ve never been, GO. And remember that after 7:00 p.m. they have live DJ music and sell alcohol at the bar, so it can also be a rather spiffy “date” event.

July 8 – September 25

11:00 – 23:30

Admission: Adults ¥1000/Children ¥600

GOLDFISH WONDERLAND at the Skytree Sumiagawa Aquarium

The entry to the exhibit features schools of lit up goldfish-shaped paper lanterns and (surprise, surprise) aquariums filled with various varieties of goldfish
The ones where you could look down on the teeming masses were the best
This one forked over an unexpected (and no doubt unintended) pleasure – the fish would all race to where people were standing, hoping to be fed, and you could make them follow you if you trailed a finger along the tank

I think this event is most enjoyable for parents with small kids, because they offer free craft activities (kids can make their own little goldfish lantern) and many of the aquariums are low enough for kids to enjoy without being lifted up. The exhibit design is a bit ho-hum for adults spoiled by the likes of Art Aquarium, and I thought the ticket price was hella expensive for adults. (Included in the price is access to the rest of the Sumidagawa Aquarium, of course, but it’s kind of small and I think it’s the least interesting one in Tokyo, so still didn’t justify the pricey entry.)

July 1 – September 30

9:00 – 21:00

Admission: Adults ¥2050/High school & college students ¥1500/Primary school students ¥1000/Children ¥600

FIREWORKS AQUARIUM at Shinagawa Aqua Park

Let’s be honest: this event is barely about the goldfish. There are a few tanks filled with interesting varieties of kingyo and decorated in a quite seasonal manner with furin wind chimes – another classic “summer” motif in Japan – but this aquarium is all about entertainment, so they don’t waste time pretending that the goldfish are the main attraction.
Because just like Snow Aquarium, this one is all about the bar.

Awesome bar is awesome. Watch this. You will not be sorry.

Yes, you can sip your libation while watching your parasol burst with fireworks overhead or examining the tropical fish swimming around under your beer in the table tank below

The entry fee also allows you to enjoy the rest of the aquarium, including the always-entertaining jellyfish room, which is currently decked out with a fireworks-like light show
Two different dolphin shows are included too. This one is the regular summer show, and…
…this one is the fireworks-themed projection mapping extravaganza

The same projection mapping artists who delivered the endlessly entertaining Flowers by Naked and Snow Aquarium are back this summer with Fireworks Aquarium, and I’m happy to report that it does not disappoint.

July 7 – September 30

9:00 – 20:00

Admission: Adults ¥2200/Students ¥1200/Children ¥700

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Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Japan, produces the monthly e-magazine Japanagram, and blogs at Only In Japan and The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had

Published by Jonelle Patrick

Writes all the Japan things.

3 thoughts on “Goldfish, Goldfish, Everywhere

  1. If you’re in Tokyo… I’m in Tokyo!

    Okay, not really. I’m an hour south (as we all know). As of the last few weeks I now have a jee eff from Chiba, and Tokyo is our middle-point for dates. So what’s the ticketing like for the Art Aquarium? Is this the kind of place that requires reservations, or will people cram in as much as they can? This seems like a great way to spend a Friday/Saturday night (and bars mixed with goldfish sound like a pretty unique combination, unless you own your own goldfish, I guess). Mostly I want to make sure I don’t act a fool by saying “Yeah, let’s totally go to this cool laser light show aquarium” to find it sold out for the night. 😛

    1. I think this would be an awesome date! No surprise, though, the closing date is nearing, so it’s getting kind of crowded. That doesn’t really keep you from being able to enjoy the goldfish (and take pictures) though – you just can’t be in a hurry.

      As for tickets: there are a few ways to do it. You can buy them online (click on the ticket info at or you can buy them at the door. The way they manage the vast numbers clamoring to get in is that once the venue reaches the maximum number of people they can have inside, they start a Disneyland-like queue down on the first floor, and allow groups to steadily go up the escalators in a controlled way, to the ticket desk at the entrance. (Access to the ticket desk is controlled, so you can’t just skip the line – people who have made it through the line are given laminated cards to show the bouncer and get access to the ticket desk/entry.) I did see some people who already had tickets go up to the guy controlling access and he let them through, but am not sure if they had to stand in line first or not. Waits can be up to an hour (in my experience) and they have people standing at key points with signs saying “30 minutes from here” and such, to let you know how long it’ll be. The estimates are pretty accurate, and the line moves steadily. (Hey, it’s Japan. If there’s one thing they know, it’s LINES. lol.)

      Anyway, I hope you and your gf go, and that you enjoy! (Also cackling because having an SO from Chiba means you’re in serious danger of becoming a lifer WELCOME TO THE CLUB har de har har!)

      p.s. If you find yourself coming into town without more important plans, let me know? It would be super fun to finally meet you f2f! I’m here until Oct 20 this time.

      1. I’ll be damned if the ticket buying website is in English (it cuts to Japanese once you actually try to buy), but both you and the site say you can buy at the door, and there’s no limit on tickets, so I can just get them there. Having been to both Disney parks here, as well as fighting my way into the Final Fantasy restaurant, I’ve learned just how patient people here can be in lines.

        Is Chiba like Japan’s Nevada, where people there get married significantly more often than anywhere else? 😛 I’ve been thinking a lot about my post-Navy career, and staying in Japan is like two of four possible paths I can take……. but it’s so COOL so I DON”T CARE if I become a LIFER. (Joke’s on you? Maybe?)

        P.S. For sure! The ship is going through this crazy inspection phase right now (miniature deployments, occasional Saturday work days, nobody leaves work until after dark, etc. etc.), but the GF always has work on Saturdays, and I always have the sightseeing bug, so I’ll definitely keep you posted. Just last week I had pretty good chicken and waffles in Shibuya at a place called Moja. It was filled with Americana stuff. Pretty cool place. 😀

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