Roppongi is a well-known district to foreigners in Tokyo. The urban (re)development of the Roppongi area began in 2003, and one of its largest redevelopment projects is ‘Roppongi Hills’. There are a large number of residential spaces, offices, art museums, deluxe hotels and recreational facilities all situated in one building complex. Amid luxurious office buildings, a small garden pond is noticeably separating the office and cinema complex, while offering a small piece of nature in the middle of the city. This pond is home to special ‘space fish’, known as ‘Medaka’.
The pond is located in the Mori Garden, a Japanese historical garden named after Dr. Mamoru Mori, a Japanese astronaut. The pond is surrounded by many trees, mini waterfalls, and lots of lily pads, and it is teeming with Medaka. These fish are Japanese rice fish that used to be kept as pets during the Edo Period. They can be found in lakes and rice paddies around Japan. They are also known as ‘Space Medaka’, owed to the fact that they are descendants of the fish that were taken into space by Dr. Mori in July 1994 as a part of a scientific research project.
These fish are known for their tough nature, as they can live as long as 3 to 5 years, and they can start breeding when they are only 7 weeks old. A series of experiments were done to check the details of the behavior of the fish in a micro-gravity environment, with a focus on extraterrestrial reproduction during the 15-day voyage into space. The fish were allowed to mate, and their offspring was studied in a Japanese laboratory before they were distributed to their foster parents across the country.
When the fish came to Roppongi Hills, they were welcomed in a ceremony that was conducted by Dr. Mori, during which a total of 1,000 descendant fish were released into the garden pond. The ceremony was attended by 1,000 children coming from different schools.
The research that has been done using these extraterrestrial fish has contributed a lot to the field of genetics since the early 1900s. Their importance is such that a small signage has even been placed near the pond that tells people not to throw in any other kind of fish or animals.
Do you want to meet these extraordinary creatures? Make sure to pay a visit to Roppongi Hills when you are in Tokyo, where you can enjoy not only the Medaka, but also a grand view of the city from the Mori Tower, an art museum and the shopping and dining facilities!