The largest goldfish museum - the Nara Kingyo Museum - was established in Nara Prefecture, one of the three main goldfish breeding areas in Japan.
The goldfish, or Chinese crucian carp (Carassius auratus), became a type of decorative fish in the 7th century AD, though the first written mention of goldfish dates back to the reign of the Jin Dynasty (265-420 AD). Goldfish were introduced into Japan at the start of the 16th century. Since then Japanese breeders have been creating new breeds that differ in beauty and refinement of forms. Modern aquarium goldfish are the result of centuries-old breeding and hybridization of individuals with new features resulting from mutations.
In past centuries, goldfish were kept in wooden tubs, ceramic ones, and then porcelain vessels. These were called 'fish pond' and 'dragon urn' (the dragon in Asia being a symbol of water). For some time now, not only the fish themselves, but also aquariums have become a special kind of art, which visitors can get acquainted with at the recently opened Art Aquarium Museum of Tokyo and the Nara Kingyo Museum.
The museum's thematic concept is a space of 'surprise', 'healing' and 'excitement', all felt through the five senses. One part of the exhibition is devoted to the aesthetics of the Edo period, while others are devoted to the seasons, Japanese umbrellas, and the play of light and color in complex shaped vessels where fish look like sparkling jewels. In one of the exhibits, goldfish swim against the background of a 12-meter projection depicting bright flowers and the underwater world.
In addition to exhibits created by artists, the museum also has interactive zones and an Aquarium Disco. The museum hosts various events while the museum shop offers a variety of goldfish-themed souvenirs.
The museum is open daily from 10-6pm. Admission is between JPY800-1200.