TOKYO >> The Japanese are known around the world for turning fish into centerpieces of culinary art. But an amusement park’s recent effort to pair frozen fish and ice-skating proved less enduring.
Two weeks ago, Space World, on the southwestern Japanese island of Kyushu, opened an ice-skating rink that featured about 5,000 fish and other sea creatures frozen beneath the surface.
It was hard to quibble with the park for calling the rink “an unprecedented attraction.”
Yet rather than attracting more visitors, the “Aquarium on Ice” ended up alienating them. A public furor broke out on social media, with many accusing the amusement park of cruelty to animals.
“Why do they do such a thing of bad taste?” one commenter wrote on Facebook. “Playing on the dead fish in the ice is nothing but insanity,” wrote another. “Isn’t it a desecration of lives?”
On Sunday, Space World apologized on its website, saying it would close the rink until further notice.
“We seriously take to heart a lot of various opinions, such as ‘you shouldn’t use these creatures in entertainments or events,’ or ‘poor fish,’” the announcement on the home page read. “We deeply apologize to all who had unpleasant feelings about the ice aquarium.”
In an interview with NHK, the Japanese public broadcaster, Toshimi Takeda, general manager of Space World, said, “We thought that we could provide an opportunity for visitors to enjoy ice skating while learning about various kinds of fish.”
“We regret this terribly,” he added.
NHK reported that the park would melt the rink to remove the fish and planned to hold a memorial service for them. It may also use the dead sea creatures as fertilizer.
According to the Japanese media, the fish, crabs and other shellfish were already dead when the amusement park bought them at a wholesale market. The park also placed photographs of larger fish, like whale sharks, under the ice.
Not all visitors were appalled by the exhibit.
“What’s the difference between skating over the beautifully decorated rink with fish in the ice that are already dead and will only be thrown away, and visiting a museum to look at already dead dinosaurs, also beautifully decorated?” Oshita Ayano posted on Facebook. “I’m looking forward to the next plan.”