Aquamarine Fukushima, a 4 floor glass-enclosed aquarium, stands on the tsunami-damaged coastline in Iwaki city, Fukushima. In March, 200,000 fish and shellfish died there; the site was closed for four months. On a recent visit, I did not expect to see much more than a dark room and a goldfish bowl – possibly empty of goldfish.
I am an aquarium novice. While happy to eat sea creatures, I have no idea what any of them look like. For two hours, the impressive rapdily re-stocked aquarium gave me a crash course. The improbable shapes and names was mind-boggling: helmet crabs, goosefish, goatfish, black cow tongue fish, butterflyfish and sea squirts (the pineapple of the ocean).
These are the lucky creatures that are escaping exposure to radioactivity. Goodness knows what those that have not escaped will end up looking like.
With new respect for the inhabitants of the underwater world, I went to the canteen. The house special was kibo kare (the curry of hope). Kibo, the word for hope, was the name given to a baby seal, born in a Chiba aquarium where its mother had been taken as a refugee.
Looking at my lunch, I realised that hope is restricted to privileged creatures, or at least the pretty and not tasty ones. The plate of sticky white rice and sweet curry sauce was topped with fried octopus and served with a bowl of whale soup.
Leaving the aquarium, I read the introduction. Aquamarine Fukushima wants us to, through the sea, think about man and earth`s future`. The future is hard to think about, so I did not bother right away. I went to the fish market instead. The harbour was packed with ships, but I could see no fishermen, just a solitary old man pissing into the ocean. It seemed an appropriate symbol for the present.