I feel like one of the most soothing and relaxing things to do in the summer is to listen to the sounds of water. I used to have a large fish tank at home and I would sit in front of it just to listen to the sounds of water trickling and the fish swimming around inside. There is just something calming and interesting about the way fish move freely in the water. If you find aquariums and water just as relaxing as I do, the Art Aquariums in Japan might be the perfect places for you to visit.
The Art Aquarium and Sky Aquarium exhibits started 10 years ago, and 2016 marks the 10th anniversary of this magical exhibit. The Art Aquarium and Sky Aquarium series that was begun in 2007 by the art aquarium artist Hidetomo Kimura has become increasingly popular due to its unique take on creating an environment of fish, water, and art. In celebration of the 10th year of these aquariums, there will be exhibits set up in 3 cities around Japan, making them even more accessible to a wider range of people.
The leader of this exhibit, Hidetomo Kimura, is the leading artist in the field of art aquariums here in Japan. His life work is to pursue the perfect collaboration of art, design, and entertainment into an aquarium. Before entering this field, he was in a job where he collected various types of fish from around the world. His fascination with the exotic and colorful fish led him to see them as a possible medium for his art. His professional knowledge in tank design, water quality control, and biology comes together in his Art Aquarium exhibits that are unparalleled in the world.
His aquariums have gained a large following and the total number of people that have visited his exhibits over the past 5 years is over 6 million. He takes on the interior, lighting, music, video, and overall space design himself in order to create these amazing spaces. In recent years, he has been attempting to combine traditional Japanese industries into modern art.
In every exhibit, he sets up a “Japonism” area where he strictly places traditional Japanese themes along with goldfish. His “Japonism” area is always one of the most popular in the entire exhibit due to the unique Japanese themes and environments that people from around the world can experience. His collaboration of goldfish and traditional Japanese art is also extremely popular as an expression of the traditional Japanese aesthetic and spirit. Last 2015, Kimura attempted to do an Art Aquarium exhibit outside of Japan for the first time. THE BEAUTIFUL WORLD OF ART AQUARIUM took place in Milan, Italy and became a collaboration of the old, classic architecture in Italy and the old traditional towns of Edo. Kimura’s first exhibit abroad was a huge success and received much praise amongst art critics from all over the world.
The Tokyo Exhibit: ~Edo, Kingyo no Ryo~ & Night Aquarium, is taking place from July 8th up to September 25th. The Tokyo exhibit is in Nihonbashi and the theme of the exhibit is the townscape of the old Japanese capital Edo and its collaboration with goldfish. Much of the interior is taken from the old architectural styles that were in use during the Edo period. In the old days, many commoners owned goldfish as a means of relaxation and coolness in the hot summers. During the exhibit, more than 8,000 goldfish of more than 70 types will be shown, marking the largest number of goldfish used in one location in Art Aquarium history. The main tank of the Art Aquarium in Tokyo is the “Cho-Oiran” which is made up of 14 aquariums surrounding an extremely large goldfish bowl and various graphics and lighting creating a mysterious yet dazzling atmosphere.
The Osaka Exhibit: ~Kingyo no Tsuya~ & Night Aquarium is taking place from July 6th to September 5th. The Osaka exhibit is located in the largest indoor space in the history of Art Aquariums and the entire exhibit is laid out over two stories. The theme of the Osaka exhibit is outer space and it is filled with space-themed music and designs. It aims to provide the visitors with an experience that is filled with both space and ocean themes.
The Kanazawa Exhibit: ~Kingyo no Hi~ is taking place from September 16th to October 14th, at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art and marks the first time that a water exhibit will take place in a national art museum. In an attempt to create an Art Aquarium exhibit that is fit for an art museum, they tried to create and represent the purely artistic side of Art Aquariums. As a special collaboration event that is limited to the Kanazawa exhibit, Kimura will be working with the artist and actor, Tsurutaro Kataoka, as they are both from the same high school.
There is also a Night Aquarium exhibit that happens every night from 7 PM at both the Tokyo exhibit and the Osaka exhibit where the lights and music are switched from their usual settings and the entire exhibit is turned into a large bar. The Night Aquarium goes on until 11:30 PM each night. You can enjoy some delicious cocktails while viewing the magical aquariums on show. There are some DJ performances planned during the Night Aquarium on certain days so if you want to enjoy a night with music in this otherworldly environment, be sure to check out the Art Aquariums!
If you don’t have the chance to visit the actual exhibits here in Japan, you can also purchase the official photo booklets and CDs at the Art Aquarium Official Store. The booklets are available in both Japanese and English so you can read the descriptions of each installation even if you cannot read Japanese.
These exhibits in three of the biggest cities in Japan are the perfect place to spend time away from the burning summer heat with family and friends. Taking photographs is allowed in all of these exhibits (no videos though) so these places would be perfect for taking photos and making summer memories. If you are looking for a place to go to during the summer, why not visit one of these exhibits? (Or all three.)