National

Goldfish-filled phone booth to be removed from Nara shopping street after accusations of plagiarism

Kyodo

An art installation featuring a telephone booth filled with water and dozens of goldfish will be removed from a spot in front of a coffee shop in Nara Prefecture after the work was said to be plagiarized, the local body managing the property said Wednesday.

The telephone booth in Yamatokoriyama “resembles one of my pieces,” Nobuki Yamamoto, an artist from Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, said at a news conference in Nara the same day.

Yamatokoriyama is known for its abundance of goldfish farms, and as the host of a nationwide competitions in goldfish scooping — a popular event at summer festivals.

According to Yamamoto, the telephone booth there was first displayed at an event organized by a local merchants’ association in 2013. But the 62-year-old artist said he had unveiled a similar booth featuring swimming goldfish in 1998 in Tokyo, and later put it on display at a museum in Iwaki.

The artist has lodged protests since 2013, and has said he would also consider filing a lawsuit.

The merchant union that manages buildings on the street hosting the coffee shop said it has decided to remove the object in consideration of copyright concerns. The booth was installed around three years ago, it said.

Shop owners expressed disappointment over the removal.

“The number of tourists has increased since it was installed, and the shopping street became more lively,” said 75-year-old Fusako Nakao, who runs a kimono shop nearby.