Fish frozen into a Japanese ice-skating rink caused uproar after many people found it to be “cruel”, “immoral,” and “weird.” When Space World, located in the city of Kitakyushu, which is in southwest Japan, unveiled their ice-skating rink, many people were not pleased. Thousands of fish were frozen into the ice in hopes of making it look like an “ice aquarium,” but it was a total mishap.
According to The Guardian, the rink featured 5,000 dead sprats, mackerel, crab, shellfish, and other fish that had been purchased from a local market. All the fish were embedded into the ice, some with their mouths still open “in apparent suspended animation.” In photos, some of the fish even spelled out “hello” under the ice, while other small fish were used as arrows to show skaters which direction to go. There were initially concerns about bigger fish such as rays and whale sharks that were put into the ice, but the park has confirmed that the larger marine creatures were merely enlarged photos placed under the ice. In one photograph, a child is seen practicing ice-skating with rays embedded into the ice directly below his feet.
On its Facebook page, Space World advertised the ice rink as a “world first” and posted images of the fish with captions that included “I am d… d… drowning, s… s… suffocating.” The amusement park’s manager Toshimi Takeda stated that the rink was meant to feel like skating on the ocean. “We had intended to give the feel of the ocean to this skating rink, with the image of fish swimming in the ocean, and we intended to make visitors have fun and learn more about fish.” The ice-skating rink did not receive a very warm welcome.
The amusement park was forced to close its rink after numerous online criticisms over its concept. After it was featured in a local TV report, there was a huge outcry from people on social media, denouncing the “fish graveyard” as immoral. The rink was supposed to have stayed open until the spring, but it was quickly shutdown. Space World’s Facebook page was bombarded with complaints. One commenter said the park was “disrespectful of life,” while another user said it was displaying an “appalling lack of morality.” One social media user wrote, “You have no soul to plan such an event to begin with.” Someone else wrote, “Do you think children are happy to see this fish in skate rink?” A Japanese Facebook page called Relief Pain Animals stated, “Why is it fun to skate over the frozen? It is shocking that this kind of idea was taken up normally in Japan … This is the worst attraction educationally.”
With tons of people expressing their frustrations and anger towards the rink, Space World’s Facebook page issued a statement apologizing to those who felt “uncomfortable” with the rink. “We deeply apologize to people who felt uncomfortable about the Ice Aquarium event. As a result, we have stopped the event from today.” A spokesperson told the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun that Space World intended visitors to “have a sense of sliding on the sea.” The rink was the first of its kind, and probably the last. After shutting the ice-skating rink down, the park was considering holding a memorial service for the fish. They also clarified that the fish were already dead when they were purchased from the fish market. “Misunderstandings spread on the internet that the fish were frozen while they were still alive, but that was not the case,” the spokesperson said, adding, “We should have explained more.”
One social media commentator summed up the situation perfectly, stating that Space World should not “make life into a toy.” According to EcoWatch, global fish stocks are “being depleted at unsustainable rates and we are on the brink of running out of fish.” Let’s hope this amusement park learned its lesson and reevaluates risky decisions in the future to prevent futher global outrage.