The many charms of Japanese summers are celebrated at the annual Eco Edo Nihonbashi, an almost two-month-long series of events wherein visitors can beat the heat and sate their senses with all things cool and wafu (Japanese-style). Hosted by the Eco Edo Nihonbashi Executive Committee, also known as the Meihashi Nihonbashi Preservation Society, the festival offers visitors a chance to grab their fans and either witness or partake in a series of performances and activities, held at multiple venues on weekends throughout July and August. The event is all about keeping cool as people did in the pre-air-conditioned Edo Period: through celebration.

This year, Eco Edo selects “Enjoy ‘Edo Cool’ with Your Five Senses” as its theme. Now in its ninth year, the festival offers a plethora of attractions designed to stimulate all the senses. Here, visitors are encouraged to immerse themselves in the festive spirit by donning yukata as they venture through Nihonbashi’s historical streets, as the colorful and light fabric keeps them cool. Furthermore, there’ll be plenty to see, hear, smell, taste, and touch at the multiple events happening simultaneously.

“Nihonbashi is a place where Edo Culture still remains,” states Taneo Nakamura, executive committee chairman of Eco Edo Nihonbashi, and chairman of the Meihashi Nihonbashi Executive Committee. “Water-tossing, yukata, cooling down by the riverside, watching goldfish … these are summer staples since the Edo era. And through these, we hope we can help people realize the importance of our environment.”

 

SEE THE GOLDFISH DECORATIONS

Goldfish good

Goldfish good

During the Edo Period, fish was a symbol of luxury, but eventually started being kept as pets by warriors and merchants. Because their bright colors and soothing movements give off an air of “cool,” goldfish were soon seen everywhere and came to be associated with summertime. Particularly toward the end of the Edo Period, goldfish prints and patterns started to pop up in woodblock artwork, kimono, and furniture.

In keeping with tradition, the Eco Edo festivities also keep things breezy with a goldfish motif. The entrance to Nakadori, the pathway to Fukutoku Shrine, is illuminated by a large goldfish lantern display, designed by the event producer and Art Aquarium artist Eichi Kimura. The Nakadori street itself is also decorated with around 100 other goldfish lanterns, cooling visitors off with a visual treat.

 

TASTE THE SUMMER SWEETS

Goldfish sweets

Goldfish sweets

Once you’ve worked up an appetite from seeing the sights, treat yourself to one of the many traditional and contemporary sweets being sold in the 55-plus confectionery stores sprinkled throughout Nakadori. The area will also hold a “Goldfish Sweets Walk,” where the sweet-toothed can regale in goldfish-themed treats to accompany you on your treks, whether on foot or the Goldfish Trolley Bus.

 

LISTEN TO THE SEASON’S SOUNDTRACK

Yukata de windbell

Yukata de windbell

As visitors walk along Nakadori fanning their yukata-clad selves, the streets echo with the glassy tinkling sounds fuurin, or Japanese windchimes. The decorative instrument’s distinctive tone is one associated with the aesthetic of the fresh Japanese countryside, and the many shops that line Nakadori hang them out to create a soundtrack to the streets and evoke refreshing images of breeze and nature.

 

MEET THE GOLDFISH

For the first time, Eco Edo Nihonbashi is putting the goldfish under the spotlight by bringing in goldfish stalls. As its name suggests, a goldfish stall is a stand or establishment that sells goldfish to prospective pet owners, and will be operated at various venues along Nakadori. But whether you’re in the market for a finned friend or not, the sight of goldfish everywhere is sure to brighten up your day.

 

ART AQUARIUM

Art Aquarium is an underwater art exhibit that uses water, underwater creatures, and colorful lighting to create intriguing, watery art installations. For this, its 10th year anniversary, Art Aquarium artist Eichi Kimura has directed an exhibit that will use “wa,”or “harmony,” as its theme and the goldfish as its subject. The installations will feature spotlights, images, and scents, all courtesy of the latest technologies, creating an exhibit to remember.

 

Eco Edo Nihonbashi 2016: Enjoy “Edo Cool” with Your Five Senses. Jul 8-Sep 25. Various areas in Nihonbashi. For more information, visit www.nihonbashi-tokyo.jp/en/special/ecoedo2016

Art Aquarium. Jul 8-Sep 25. Nihonbashi Mitsui Hall, 5F Coredo Muromachi 1, 2-2-1 Nihonbashi, Muromachi, Chuo-ku. Nearest stn: Nihonbashi. http://artaquarium.jp/en/