If the developers of Tokyo's Epson Aqua Stadium have their way, visiting an aquarium will no longer be the preserve of schoolchildren and young families. Instead, bored office workers are the target of this snazzy complex, which opened in April next to the Shinagawa Prince Hotel in Shinagawa, one of Tokyo's prime business districts.
Described as "entertainment for adults" by spokesman Naoto Takahashi, the theme park boasts facilities designed to lure grownups from their usual happy-hour haunts, featuring a slick restaurant and café-bar, [an error occurred while processing this directive] concert hall (U.S. surfer turned songwriter Jack Johnson recently performed) and, of course, an aquarium one of the largest in the Japanese capital.
Unlike traditional aquariums, this one doesn't attempt to impart knowledge: there are no signboards listing the scientific names of the 20,000 fish, dolphins and penguins within, or diagrams of their anatomies. Instead, all the exhausted office worker needs to do is look at the pretty creatures swimming by.
Even the adjacent roller coaster betrays a generation bias, drawing inspiration from Galaxy Express 999, a 1970s manga that Japanese adults remember nostalgically but not a cartoon their children would watch. The Epson Aqua Stadium is generally open from noon until 10 p.m. nightly long after the little ones are in bed.