Japanese Collective Turns Old Phone Booths Into Aquariums

Dr. Who’s phone booth may function as a futuristic time machine, but such booths, in real life, tend to be relics of the past. What to do with this nostalgic bits of our pre-iPhone past? An artist collaborative known as Kingyobu has arrived at a novel solution by turning Osaka’s old booths into giant goldfish aquariums.

According to The Atlantic, Kingyobu loosely translates to “goldfish club” in English. Rather than letting Osaka’s old phone booths rust and decay — or worse, get hauled off to the landfill or scrapyard — the five members of this collective have taken the initiative to seal several of Osaka’s phone booths, then fill them with water, bubblers, and yes, goldfish. (Exactly how these fish are fed isn’t all that clear. With a ladder, perhaps?) Whimsically enough, the old pay phones within have been left intact, though we imagine they’re no longer connected to any telephone lines.

kingyobu phone booth

image via Kingyobu collective

Spoon & Tamago — a blog covering Japanese art and culture — points out that details on the project remain murky, but Kingyobu seems to have debuted their phone-booth-aquarium design at an art festival in late 2011, and have since gone on to install these aquariums in Osaka over the course of 2012. (If you’re interested in exactly how such a thing is done, check out the Kingyobu collective’s making-of images.)

kingyobu phone booth 2

image via Kingyobu collective

Goldfish (or koi) are a common and widely recognized element in Japanese art and culture, appearing in everything from reflecting ponds to traditional sculptures and tattoos. Also, they’re associated with everything from good luck and happiness to prosperity and abundance — so it’s not hard to imagine that, beyond the fun factor, these art installations are a welcome addition to the streets of Osaka.

1 Comment

  • Reply July 1, 2013

    Dana Swinney Hobart

    Doctor Who does not travel in a phone booth. He has a time machine/space ship disguised as a police box. It is Clark Kent who used phone booths to change into Superman.

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