Kyoto Aquarium: A Bad Idea at the wrong time in the wrong place

Michael Lambe of Deep Kyoto has been writing for a few months on a shortsighted scheme under way in Kyoto City, selling off part of Umekoji Park near Kyoto Station to Orix Corporation to build an aquarium. Today he has a guest column on the Japan Today website.

There are many reasons why Kyoto doesn’t need an aquarium, starting with the fact that there is already a large, well-known aquarium in neighboring Osaka, WHICH IS A PORT CITY where an aquarium makes some sense. Kyoto Prefecture’s port is far away beyond the mountains. An aquarium doesn’t fit in with Kyoto’s history as the ancient capital and heart of culture and traditions. There’s no narrative there. It cheapens the narrative, in fact.

Worst of all, perhaps, is that the project is probably doomed to have bad PR and negatively impact Kyoto’s reputation. When people think “Japan” and “dolphin” they aren’t going to think, “I wanna take my kids to this place so they can bear witness to the majesty of Japan’s special relationship with the intelligent cetaceans.”  They may, however, think, “Is this some kind of barbaric Japanese dolphin canning factory?”

Bad idea, really bad idea.


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