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Night Art Aquarium: Dance of a Goldfish

My visit to Japan would not be complete without traveling to the city of Kyoto. I have been there so many times before that one might wonder what is there more to see? This time around I came to see not the cherry blossoms, the temples, nor the momiji leaves that where in season (though I did see them on this trip well they were just so beautiful not to experience which I will tell you in another post). The real highlight of my visit were GOLDFISHES. Goldfishes in different colors and eye sizes – well I guess goldfishes with unique EYES. So you might wonder what is so great about these fishes that I traveled just to see them and paid 1500 yen for a ticket. Well don’t be shocked, apparently these fishes are as popular as the momiji leaves that were in season – a lot and I mean a lot of people were there to see them. They were apart of a popular art exhibit by Hidetomo Kimura entitled Art Aquarium : Dance of a Goldfish which is a mixture of contemporary art, colorful lights, music and goldfishes in uniquely designed fish tanks at Nijo Castle to commemorate its 20th year anniversary as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

From enjoying the momiji leaves at kiyomizudera, we hurriedly rode the bus to Nijo Castle thinking the exhibit would close at 9pm. We arrived at the venue at 8:30 asked the staff if the exhibit was still open and luckily we were told that the exhibit is open from 7pm to 10pm – HURRAY we made it! Once we got inside there was a waiting time for about 15 minutes to get tickets and another 15 minutes to get inside the exhibit. And it was so worth the wait!


The Four Seasons Aquarium which was the first on exhibit was so big and grand and had nishikigoi or carp fishes. It showed the changing season in Japan thru beautiful scenery projections. Honestly because of the hug volume of people that were there or maybe because I was so excited to see the other exhibits that I only saw this aquarium for a few minutes not even enough to see it change from one season to the other.

Four Seasons Aquarium

Autumn (Photo by Zengame on Flickr)

Winter (Photo by Zengame on Flickr)

Spring (Photo by Zengame on Flickr)

Summer (Photo by Zengame on Flickr)

From something so grand the next exhibit was a bit of a surprise – it was the only one with no fish in it – the Koto Momiji Fubuki. The exhibit had Kimonos and what appeared to be broken glass that changes colors – at one time it even resembled colors from momiji leaves.

The Andonrium exhibit where like guide lamps that lighted path ways. The fish tanks had laced like graphic designs in different color lights.

A Show of Kingyo were small open fish aquariums with three goldfishes on each tank – what made this exhibit for me so entertaining was the chance to get a closer look at the goldfishes. I never thought there where so many types of goldfishes some of them had huge popping eyes and even bloated cheeks.

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At first I thought the next exhibit was an over sized fish globe till one Japanese said it appears to resemble the earth rotating that was the only time I noticed that it did appear to rotate through the water that glided smoothly on its side.

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The other exhibits featured aquariums with unique shapes like there was an aquarium with eight sides which had a prism like shape, another with bubble like circles all over the aquarium surface which made the goldfishes appear small and huge depending on which angle you see them, there was even an aquarium that closely resembled the shape of a diamond. There was also an hour glass shaped aquarium exhibit called the Paradoxrium.

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The center piece for me would be the Oiran exhibit, though the shape of the aquarium was not as unique as the others as it was the closest to resemble a fish bowl we often see – it was the light effect and the shear size and number of fishes that was part of this exhibit that created a very dramatic effect that was a really a feast for once eyes. Unfortunately due to much excitement I guess or confusion we failed to see one exhibit the Kimonorium.

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Kimonorium (Photo by Guilhem Vellut on Flickr)

The exhibit by the way is from October 24, 2014 to December 14, 2014 and is open from 17:00 to 22:00 at Nijo Castle so if you happen to be in Kyoto make sure to drop by and see this one of a kind exhibit. And by the way they just announced the next venue for the exhibit, it will be in Osaka at Hankyu Umeda Hall for more information please visit this site.

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