Summer 2013 – the Summer of Squid
As surely as the sun rises and sets, trends in Japan will come and go.
In recent years we’ve seen huge surges in popularity of various items and creatures including pandas, bananas and tails (yes, tails).
This year, it’s squid.
Giant squid have been appearing around Tokyo, eliciting squeals of delight and amazement from passersby, and of course lots of photographs.
Here are just a few examples:
At the Tokyo Midtown Centre one day in mid-July, an enormous 15-metre high squid suddenly appeared, suspended above the main plaza. It was quite an extraordinary and unexpected sight.
A few days later we were treated to a spectacular 360-degree “4D projection” show over the body of the squid.
In layman’s terms that means the conventional 3 dimensions plus a further “dimension” of graphics driven by real-time meteorological data from the area of the squid’s natural habitat, the Ogasawara Islands.
Needless to say, it packed in the crowds.
Within a few weeks, and on the opposite side of Tokyo, another giant squid made a spectacular appearance, flying (floating?) above the main concourse of Ueno Station, dwarfing the commuters passing below.
Again, many photos were taken and cries of “Sugoi!!” heard.
And the 3D images…click to view full size
The reason for the appearance of these squid, it turns out, is for the promotion of a number of squid-related exhibitions and programs.
Elsewhere in Tokyo, submarine life was also the theme of a quite fascinating presentation at the Konica Minolta Plaza which featured videos, photographs, projections and a novel experiential installation where visitors were handed torches and walked through darkened “undersea” tunnels, shining their lights on the walls to illuminate images of the creatures living in the darkness kilometres below the ocean’s surface. Lots of cute, colourful, blobby things.
Admittedly the main focus of this exhibition was jellyfish, but hey, jellyfish and squid are clearly in the same ballpark.
Jellyfish, incidentally, are ongoingly popular in Japan. In fact one of the main atrractions of the new Sumida Aquarium at Tokyo Sky Tree is a jellyfish exhibit.
There is also an aquarium/museum in Yamagata dedicated exclusively to jellyfish!
Alongside all this year’s undersea exhibitions are the obligatory reams of merchandise, and undoubtedly we will be seeing a lot of wobbly, jellylike, rubbery, tentacled creatures for the forseeable future.
Or at least until the wave of the next trend starts to build…
. Details of the creatures of the deep museum exhibition here.
. All about the NHK program here.
. If you love the undersea world, why not download the free NHK app and carry the deep ocean creatures in your pocket after visiting the show!
. And the Konica Minolta Plaza exhibition informationhere.