How did this Japanese theme park try to create the ‘feel of the ocean’?

The park operator has issued an apology and said the rink would be shut down

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 November, 2016, 10:40am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 November, 2016, 12:04pm

An amusement park in southwestern Japan has closed its ice-skating rink after public outrage over the rink’s key feature: 5,000 dead fish frozen into the ice itself.

Space World, a theme park in Kitakyushu, Fukuoka prefecture, had opened its new attraction November 12. The rink was packed with 25 types of fish purchased from the city’s fish market, according to Mainichi Shimbun. Photos of whale sharks and rays also were placed into the ice, the newspaper reported.

We had intended to give the feel of the ocean to this ice skating rink, with the image of fish swimming in the ocean
Space World general manager Toshimi Takeda

Photos of the rink that were previously on the park’s Facebook page showed that some of the fish had been embedded with their mouths agape and their heads partially protruding from the ice. Others were laid out in circular and arrow patterns. One “school” of fish spelled out the word “hello”, according to The Guardian newspaper.

“We had intended to give the feel of the ocean to this ice skating rink, with the image of fish swimming in the ocean,” Space World general manager Toshimi Takeda told the newspaper. “And we intended to make visitors have fun and learn more about fish.”

Instead, the park was flooded by complaints from patrons and on social media.

“It’s as if the fish are alive,” one woman told NHK news. “I feel kind of uncomfortable letting my kids skate on them.”

On Twitter, one person said the attraction had been done “in poor taste”.

“When are you going to stop this [expletive] attraction?” tweeted another.

The park operator issued an apology Sunday on social media and through media interviews and said the rink would be shut down.

“We sincerely apologise to everyone who was upset by the Ice Aquarium,” the theme park tweeted.

Shibata told the news agency that all the fish were dead when purchased and considered unfit to be sold in markets, in response to rumours circulating online that the fish had been frozen alive.

“We received critical voices saying it is not good to use creatures as a toy, and that it is bad to let food go to waste,” Shibata said.

Space World officials said the park will hold a memorial service with a Shinto priest for the fish after it melts the rink, which could take about a week.

On Facebook, Space World also said it would remove posts about the ice rink. As of Monday, all photos and posts about the rink appeared to have been deleted or made no longer publicly visible on the park’s social media pages. However, images of the posts remained online.

The decision to delete posts about the ice rink also upset some people, a few of whom posted the offending photos back onto Space World’s page.

“This is not art,” wrote one person who did just that, a Facebook user named Eiko Moroso. “This is abuse.”