Monday, July 12, 2010
Given my interest in the local sea/river life here, it seemed appropriate to take a trip to the Tokyo Sea Life Park this weekend, where the underwater ecosystems of the region are explored in-depth. Wow. What a worthwhile trip. It's a really well-designed aquarium, beginning with modest displays of some really unusual creatures and building up to a really great multi-level wave-tank pool display of local tidal pool and undersea life, and a HUGE, curved tank of monstrous, silvery tuna (the type everyone eats here as sushi) with ampitheater seating packed to the gills -pardon the pun- with interested onlookers. We arrived just in time for fish-feeding, which was pretty spectacular.
It was also a fantastic place for people-watching - indeed, sometimes they were all you could watch, 'cause it got pretty crowded. The displays were beautiful and often swayed with kelp and the waves, touch-pools filled with sea urchins, rays, nurse-sharks and starfish, and an above-tank viewing area where you can see how it all works.
I saw plenty of creatures I've never encountered before, including air-breathing, rock-hopping blennys, newborn jellyfish, and the spiky sea-cucumber below - many of which made Japanese monster-design seem so much less bizarre and more connected to nature. In terms of the everyday informing creative endeavors that might seem strange and otherworldly in another context, it was eye-opening. The gift shop was filled with surprises of its own, including a lot of really great paper models to fold into paper lobsters and fish. I bought several of these and I'm already thinking of ways to use the patterns for my own paper things.