Review | ART AQUARIUM MUSEUM: A Magical Place Swimming With Life

07.October.2020 | FEATURES / SPOT

ART AQUARIUM MUSEUM officially opened permanently in Nihonbashi, Tokyo, on August 28, 2020. Before that, it was simply an exhibition that was held around Tokyo which brought together over 10 million visitors throughout its run, exhibiting goldfish in a variety of breathtaking ways.

 

We visited ART AQUARIUM MUSEUM together with Japanese model Yuna Yabe to take a deeper dive into what lies within those doors.

ART AQUARIUM MUSEUM can be found in Nihonbashi, an area of which served as one of many places where ART AQUARIUM previously held its exhibitions. Nihonbashi is steeped in tradition and is actually the place where Japan’s goldfish culture spawned from during the Edo Period.

 

ART AQUARIUM was conceived and is managed by Hidetomo Kimura, an author and general producer. It’s a collaboration between art, design, and entertainment, all fused into an aquarium to create a completely unique experience. The museum has taken what was once a pop-up exhibition and expanded it many-fold, housing close around 30,000 goldfish.


The aquarium is divided into different areas each with its own unique theme that plunges visitors into a multitude of fantastical worlds. One of the must-sees when visiting ART AQUARIUM MUSEUM is the masterful Oiran works—giant goldfish bowls as pictured above—which are inspired by the red light district of the Edo Period.

Perhaps the most striking and gorgeous part of the Edo Period was Hanamachi, the districts where geisha worked. The high-ranking courtesans, known as Oiran, engaged in what was known as the Oiran Dochu, or procession of the courtesans, and this too has been captured at the museum in the designs of the beautiful fish tanks in this area.

Another unmissable part when visiting the aquarium are the Goldfish Shrines, towering fish tanks lined up like a column of water trees which make for an incredible viewing experience.

The lighting and music is ever-changing, and so transports visitors into a completely different realm every time. It can be one way one moment, and in the next instant it changes entirely.

From the second floor you can overlook the fish shrines with dynamic 3D visuals in the background. These visuals change depending on the season, so you’ll be in for a treat however many times you visit.

There are countless works of goldfish art scattered throughout the aquarium—too many to count, so your eyes will never grow tired.

Suigian Lounge – Old Pine Tree Area

ART AQUARMIUM MUSEUM even has its own dining lounge where guests can enjoy a meal while gazing at a painting of old pine trees, a cultural property of the Edo Period said to have been painted by those of the Kano school of Japanese painting. Traditional performances are also carried out on the stage for diners.

These drinks are ¥1,200 each (before tax)

Every five days, a new line-up of cocktails is served at Suigian Lounge. Japan used to be divided into 24 sekki rather than the now-used four seasons of springs, summer, autumn, and winter. These were further divided into 72 , which are five days apart each. That’s where the lounge gets its idea for changing its cocktails every five days. So you’re sure to find an interesting flavour on every visit.

Kagyo Ryoran – Joy Area 

Kagyo Ryoran is a separate cafe lounge at the aquarium where they serve authentic Japanese sweets in collaboration with famous confectionery shops.

From Left Clockwise: Goldfish Sarasa ¥750 / Palet D’or Cacao Soda ¥900 / Echire Butter & Cream Castella ¥800 / lohasbeans coffee Matcha Tiramisu ¥850 / Goldfish Jelly ¥750 (All Before Tax)

The cafe serves up range of tasty Japanese desserts, from traditional ones to others inspired by goldfish and some made in collaboration with other shops.

Large Plush Toys: ¥3,200 Each (Before Tax)

The aquarium event sells its own souvenirs, such as goldfish plushies in various sizes, original confections, collaborative products, and more.

“Everything was magical—the goldfish, the sounds, the lights, the atmosphere!” explains Yuna. “They have a lot of different varieties of goldfish, and the fish tanks come in all shapes and sizes, which makes for plenty of Instagram-worthy moments. And since it’s inspired by Edo culture, it has a Japanese vibe to it too. The fish are always swimming around, so no two moments are ever the same, meaning you’re offered something fresh every time you visit.”

 

If you’re visiting Tokyo, be sure to pay a visit to ART AQUARIUM MUSEUM.

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