ART AQUARIUM MUSEUM
Sometimes, we wonder how we could improve our lives and our mental well-being. One of the possible remedies is the so-called "aquarium therapy". Observing the fish's movement with their thousand shades - which seem to dance and create a sinuous motion of the water - generates a calm and tranquillity feeling. Some studies report that aquarium therapy is indicated to control states of anxiety and depression. It produces stability, reduces worries and clears the mind. Furthermore, this remedy is also applied to Alzheimer's patients, who can increase their level of attention and concentration thanks to it.
Fish, especially goldfish, are celebrated in Asian culture. They are one of the eight sacred symbols of the Buddha, representing fertility, abundance and harmony. In Japan, the "art aquarium artist" Hidetomo Kimura created the Art Aquarium Museum in Nihonbashi, with the Kingyo (goldfish) as protagonists. Hidetomo Kimura has travelled the world studying their lives and their natural environment and considers them a "living work of art". In the Art Aquarium Museum - combining art, design, and entertainment - Kimura has created an aquarium with significant Japanese traditions. The exhibition hosts more than three thousand goldfishes, and it is divided into three large rooms. Inside, every iconic object of Japanese culture masterfully houses an aquarium. Lanterns, rocks, vases are decorated with plants and water to recreate the natural habitat of goldfish. The sound of water, lights and background music accompanies the visitor on this enveloping journey into the world of fish.
The first room, Prologue, houses the artist's previous works. One of the first attractions you come across is the Kaleidorium. Through small triangular windows built on a rectangular aquarium, you can admire the marine world as if inside a kaleidoscope. As the fish approach the triangular windows, their appearance and shape changes as if by magic. Through a round window, Round Window Rium, characteristic of Japanese architecture, you see a mysterious garden. Large acrylic rocks and cascading water are home to the Rock Garden Rium. Water and the stones – which usually are separated in the Japanese garden - are merged here to accommodate the sinuous and magical vaulting of the Kingyo.
The central concept of the exhibition, Transitoriness, symbolizes the city of Hanamachi, the modern flower district of Edo. Recreating courtesans' ephemeral and charming beauty, in The procession of courtesan (Oiran Dochu), the artist plays the same atmosphere with massive water and fish vessels. A large door invites you into the Oiran room. Here, a gigantic fishbowl welcomes visitors with thousands of Kingyo, representing many women's dream to become courtesans. To make it even more impressive, many traditional objects are used as unusual and pleasant aquariums. For example, Reflectarium: through convex, concave and double lenses, the fish appear "deformed"; BonBorium: lanterns illuminated in various colors, with individual Kingyo inside; Andonrium: traditional Japanese lace-covered lanterns, where fish create intricate shadows and shapes; Temaririum: a perfect combination between the artisan tradition of temari, a Japanese game, and aquarium.
Mystery, the last room, represents the unreal world. A show of Kingyo houses a selection of fishes, elegantly placed in circular tanks on podiums. A completely different scenario is revealed to the eyes in the Earthaquarium Japonism. A giant sphere holds huge Nishikigoi, the Japanese carp. Crossing the hall, you enter the Forest of goldfish. Here, together with vertical aquariums that contain fantastic fish, there is the Kingyo Box with Gold leaf for Prayer.
Goldfish, which have always been a symbol of peace and luck, have had different cultural locations over the centuries. In Feng Shui, for example, the aquarium is not just a decorative element but a necessary object. It releases vital energy and harmony inside the house. In the field of art, the goldfish was recurrent in the works of the artist Henri Matisse. In the painting "The Goldfish" (1912) - one of the most famous works - the goldfish was the main subject. He asserted that the fish were able to capture the viewer's attention - with their giant eyes and open mouths - while remaining meek and poised.
Who has not had a goldfish as a child? Spending hours watching them swim, grimacing and smiling, really gave a sense of serenity. The same feeling is experienced by visiting the Art Aquarium Museum. Perhaps this is the actual mental well-being: to let yourself be dragged into the sweet vaulting of the fish.