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Dead fish for ice rink decoration triggered outrage in Japan

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What kind of reaction would there be if the manager of an ice-skating rink decided to decorate the ice with thousands of dead fish? Would people be fascinated and suddenly become more interested in marine biology or would they be shocked? This really happened and there was outrage!

A Space World’s ice-skating rink in Kitakyushu, a city in Fukuoka Prefecture, southern Japan, had to be closed after people complained about all the dead fish under the ice. Comments ranged from ‘disrespectful to animals’, ‘bad taste’, “disgusting’, ‘creepy’, to ‘an irresponsible waste of food’.

On November 12th, Space World had opened with what it had described as an ‘aquarium-themed attraction’. Visitors would have the added pleasure of seeing more than five thousand frozen fishes in the ice while skating.

Ice rink decorated with dead fishWhat on Earth were Mr. Takeda and colleagues thinking when they placed fish protruding out of the ice with gaping mouths? (Image: image.itmedia.co.jp)

According to The Mainichi, the theme park had hoped to give customers the impression of skating on the surface of the sea.

Sea dead fish while you skate!

The expected fascination and praise never came. Instead, the park received an avalanche of negative comments and reviews online.

Space World explained that the fish were not killed for the purpose of decorating the ice rink – they were already dead when they were frozen.



On its website, Space World wrote:

“We have received a lot of opinions such as ‘Using animals as entertainment and in events is bad’ and ‘Poor fish’. We sincerely apologise.”

Memorial ceremony for the dead fish

In an interview with the AFP News Agency, Toshimi Takeda, Space World’s General Manager, said he planned to hold a memorial ceremony for the more than five thousand dead creatures.

Dead fish in theme park outrageVirtually within minutes of opening the ice skating rink, a barrage of negative comments appeared online. (Image: twitter.com)

Mr. Takeda clearly had a bizarre way of trying to promote the park. On Space World’s Facebook page, pictures had been uploaded of frozen fish half-submerged in the ice, some of them with their mouths wide open and their heads half-sticking out of the ice, while others were arranged in arrow-like formations.

The range of marine life embedded in the ice was not just limited to fishes; there were also crabs, rays, whale sharks and other sea creatures. Mr. Takeda insists the non-fish specimens were just enlarged pictures and not dead sealife.



Dead fish not fit for consumption

In response to the many ‘waste of food’ comments, Mr. Takeda explained that the fishes were purchased at a wholesale market and had been labelled as ‘unfit for human consumption’.

Most visitors to the Park or its Facebook page were horrified. One person commented: “What were you people thinking to use dead fish to decorate a playground?”

A mother who went with her child said that she felt the fish were alive, even though she knew they weren’t. There was no way she would let her son skate there, she added.

Thousands of dead fish in ice for skatersHow does the idea of skating on ice with thousands of dead fish below grab you? Space World management thought people might enjoy it. How wrong they were! (Image: pbs.twimg.com)

A Space World representative wrote to the BBC with the following comment:

“We are planning to return it to its normal state …. [the park will probably open] in December.”

Space World (スペースワールド) is a large theme park in Kitakyushu, operated by Space World Inc, a subsidiary of Kamori Kanko. It was created in 1990 by Nippon Steel when the firm was downsizing its steel plant in the area.

On its website, Space World writes:

“At Space World, there is a full line-up of attractions to suit everyone: families, thrill seekers, fun lovers who want to enjoy a big splash on the water rides, and space lovers looking for that authentic space experience.”

Video – Dead fish in ice rink

Theme park manager Mr. Takeda said he and his colleagues had intended to give the feel of the ocean to the ice skating rink, with the idea of the fish swimming in the sea. “We intended to make visitors have fun and learn more about fish,” he added.