This is the essay Takashi Amano wrote for his planted aquarium collection book Glass no Naka no Daishizen ( Nature Aquarium World ) published in 1992. It gives the opportunity to understand Amano’s unique views of nature and his experience.
An Environment that is GOOD for the Soul
When it comes to landscape painting, I’m one of those no-talent enthusiasts. I pretty much stick to photography now, but when I paint I prefer lightly-colored paintings of thatched-roof houses in the mountains or boathouses and fishing villages by the rough Sea of Japan. However, the subjects of these motifs are hard to find these days, and when I do come across such old homes the gardens are unkempt or they have modern sliding glass doors on them. When I first visited Africa fifteen years ago, even the lodges and pensions for tourists blended right in with the traditional housing surrounding them. And on a certain Mediterranean island an ordinance requires people to repaint their homes white every year. These kinds of rules are found in many countries, and I admire the people of advanced culture who make them. I’ve realized something in my travels, and it may be my own prejudice so I’ll state it briefly: people who live in simple, beautiful surroundings are simple and beautiful inside. But as development progresses, the soul is ravaged along with the landscape. So I think that we should make our daily surroundings beautiful. How about requiring every home to have at least one large tree? Every home would have to have the necessary space, and different towns could require different trees: this town apricot, that one zelkova, another ginkgo and so on. Ugly homes and billboards would be covered up, and eventually neighborhoods would be blanketed in green. Likewise, aquarists should add some plants every time the fish population increases. Of course the quantity depends on the fishes’ size, but a small characin, for example, would require only a few stemmed plants such as Hygrophila or Rotala to take care of the water purification. Plants and animals balance each other, and this balance needs to be maintained even in the smallest systems.
Nature Aquarium World (TFH, 1992)