Thoughts from Shinagawa’s Aqua Park

I don’t know what it is about water and fish that I find so soothing. I still hope that I will one day have a big aquarium in my living room — about a dozen fish, ideally.

Although the aquarium was small, I found myself lingering in front of each tank for minutes. I took my time to observe and read about the different species. I was particularly interested in the tanks that held several species of fish, some even reproduced small ecosystems with mammals and reptiles. I love to see how they interact with each other, how they coexist.

The main attraction of this aquarium was the jellyfish room. Dark, with random light shows gave the tanks an eerie feel to them, almost hypnotizing. In normal waters, we wouldn’t be able to perceive them this well. The shape of the tanks reminded me a lot of lava lamps — which surely enough they sold some in the gift shop.

A lot of people have read, or at least heard about Haruki Murakami. While I wasn’t particularly hooked as much as my best friend was (still is), I did read one of his novels: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. A lot, and I mean a lot, happens in that book, but I vaguely remembered a passage about jellyfish:

“Why do you like jellyfish so much?” I asked.
“I don’t know. I guess I think they’re cute,” she said. “But one thing did occur to me when I was really focused on them. What we see before us is just one tiny part of the world. We get into the habit of thinking, This is the world, but that’s not true at all. The real world is in a much darker and deeper place than this, and most of it is occupied by jellyfish and things. We just happen to forget all that. Don’t you agree? Two thirds of the earth’s surface is ocean, and all we can see of it with the naked eye is the surface: the skin. We hardly know anything about what’s beneath the skin.”


When I entered the jellyfish room, I though about it; this room gave whoever walking through it the impression they were getting to see the “real world” in all its darkness.


Besides the jellyfish, I was super excited that they did have a small shark. I would share a picture but I haven’t managed to take a really nice one.

For the curious, I found a short video on why bigger sharks can’t be kept in aquariums right here.