This Tokyo Pond Contains Fish From Space

Atlas Obscura
Your Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders
Feb. 10 2014 12:42 PM

Tokyo's Roppongi Hills Garden is Home to Extraterrestrial Fish

Atlas Obscura on Slate is a blog about the world's hidden wonders. Like us on Facebook, Tumblr, or follow us on Twitter @atlasobscura.

When office workers at the 54-story Mori Tower in the Roppongi Hills urban community need some fresh air, they head downstairs to Mohri Garden. The tranquil green space contains a pond that was once part of a 17th-century feudal estate. Now, the pond is home to thousands of Medaka fish with an unusual pedigree: they are the descendants of fish who were born in space.

In July 1994, four Medaka — a hardy, inch-long species found in lakes and rice paddies around Japan — traveled to space aboard the NASA shuttle Columbia. During the 15-day voyage, scientists observed the breeding of the Medaka to see if the microgravity environment would affect their behavior. The fish mated and their eggs hatched normally, giving the four adult Medaka the distinction of being the first vertebrates to mate while orbiting Earth.

Advertisement

When the shuttle returned, the offspring of the astronaut fish spent a few months being studied in a Japanese lab before being distributed to "foster parents" at schools, museums, and homes across the country. In 2003, the Roppongi Hills complex opened, boasting four apartment buildings, a corporate high-rise, museums, hotels, and a shopping center. During a welcoming ceremony involving 1,000 school children, Japanese astronaut Mamoru Mohri released 10,000 descendents of the extraterrestrial fish into the garden pond.

With a lifespan of three to five years and a breeding age of seven weeks, the Medaka of Roppongi Hills have thrived. Meanwhile, aboard the International Space Station, microgravity experiments on their species continue.

roppongi2
The Mohri Garden pond by day...

Photo: machu/Creative Commons

Something fishy's going on here:


View Roppongi Hills in a larger map

TODAY IN SLATE

The Slatest

Ben Bradlee Dead at 93

The legendary Washington Post editor presided over the paper’s Watergate coverage.

The Congressional Republican Digging Through Scientists’ Grant Proposals

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Whole Foods Is Desperate for Customers to Feel Warm and Fuzzy Again

The XX Factor

I’m 25. I Have $250.03.

My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.

The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I’m 25. I Have $250.03. My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.
Technocracy

Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

George Tiller’s Murderer Threatens Another Abortion Provider, Claims Free Speech

Walmart Is Crushing the Rest of Corporate America in Adopting Solar Power

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 21 2014 3:13 PM Why Countries Make Human Rights Pledges They Have No Intention of Honoring
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 21 2014 5:57 PM Soda and Fries Have Lost Their Charm for Both Consumers and Investors
  Life
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 3:03 PM Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 9:42 PM The All The President’s Men Scene That Perfectly Captured Ben Bradlee’s Genius
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 21 2014 5:38 PM Justified Paranoia Citizenfour offers a look into the mind of Edward Snowden.
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.