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Kingyobu Turns Old Phone Booths into Aquariums

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Goldfish phone booths started to appear around Osaka. A group called ‘Kingyobu’, or Goldfish Club, was reinventing the once omnipresent, and now obsolete an old phone booth by transforming it from a functional tool to an object of public art. A member of the public could walk through a park in Osaka and stumble across a phone booth that would turn out actually to be a bubbling aquarium filled with live goldfish.

Installation

Installation

Golfish as Symbol

Long a support of summer festivals throughout Japan, the goldfish is often seen as a symbol of good luck and happiness. Since 2011, old phone booths have been refined and restored in Osaka as urban aquariums filled with squirming, live goldfish, to the delight of the public. Stephanie Chang Avila talks about the creation of these Phone Booth Fish Tanks and relates the

Not only did the Kingyobu collective recycle and reprocess an outdated urban structure, but their live art installations drew on the significance of the brightly colored goldfish in Japanese culture in order to delight the public. Kingyobu thus added a welcome dash of unexpected fun and happiness to the urban fabric by drawing on the importance of the goldfish in Japanese culture, acting as a reminder of summer festivals, childhood games and good luck.

Summer in Japan means summer festivals, and Golfish scooping (kingyo-sukui) is the highlight for any Japanese child. Since it was introduced to Japan from China in the 17th century, the goldfish has gone from being a highly prized, pedigreed animal to becoming a staple of summer street festivals. Armed with a net made of paper (poi) and a bowl, goldfish scooping required each child to capture as many goldfish from the pool before the paper net broke.

The child could then take the captured goldfish home where it would, more often than not, suffocate in its clear plastic bag. Such is the popularity of goldfish in Japanese culture that goldfish breeding has actually become an art form. Unique Japanese goldfish breeds include the Reykin with its sharp head and distinctive hump and the relatively rare Tosakin from Kochi Prefecture. Goldfish aficionados join local goldfish clubs to trade breeding tips and to organise goldfish competitions.

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Category: Outdoor Design & Décor

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