• Kyoto


At the risk of isolating myself to a community of one, I would like to comment on how weak and, most likely, ineffectual the efforts are by some in the international community in Kyoto to stop the building of an aquarium. At present, work on the aquarium in Umekoji Park, west of Kyoto Station, has actually stopped because of objects found during excavation.

First, the protesters’ arguments are flawed. Second, their means of protest, an online petition, is nothing more than “conscientious click-it-ism.” Cities are test tubes and constantly changing. The protesters, in their online petition, declare that because Kyoto has no maritime connection, it does not make sense to build an aquarium. This deduction is naive to say the least. My hometown in Ireland has no Savannah connections, yet we have giraffes in the local wildlife park.

Furthermore the protesters presume to speak for all tourists when they say that visitors are attracted to Kyoto for its shrines, temples gardens and traditions. If an aquarium is built, tourists will no doubt visit that, too.

The protesters are right to contend that loss of green space is an issue. Although in Kyoto one is never far from the mountains, as in many Japanese cities, green space within the city is lacking. The aquarium will reduce this further. But will Orix Corp. and, more importantly, the city government be persuaded by a petition that so far has attracted a few hundred signatories, many of them people living overseas. Or, would they be more likely to pay attention to old-school activism, the type that does not whimper online, but agitates in the real world?

j.j. o’donoghue

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