“FORESTS UNDERWATER” – Thoughts of People

Here we introduce comments from people involved with the creation and exhibition of “FORESTS UNDERWATER” and artists inspired by this aquascape.
(It is described Aqua Journal vol. 244 page 32-35)



Mr. João Falcato
Chief Executive Officer, Oceanário de Lisboa, Portugal


When you build a new temporary exhibit, several questions and fears cross your mind.


You have to achieve a high quality exhibition within a tight budget and a challenging calendar.


When you innovate what Oceanário always tries to do, there are many other concerns related to technical challenges and options, environmental impact of the materials you are using and many other issues.


Finally you overcome all the challenges and reach the final one – how will the new exhibition be received by the visitors. All the challenges and investments done have one unique purpose – for the public to enjoy it, for the conservation and sustainability message to pass – for Oceanário to contribute to its mission and reason to exist.


All the efforts and challenges would be in vain if this final objective is not reached.

Forests Underwater came with huge risks in this regard. The general public that Oceanário deals with – more than 1,000,000 every year – has no idea what a Nature Aquarium is. Would it be attractive for them to come? Would they like it when they saw it? Would they be touched by the experience?


Many questions, a lot of risk, but big hopes and confidence were in our minds during the whole process.


Today, 7 months after opening, we have the reality and it is a lot better than we all expected.

68% of our visitors visited this temporary exhibition, while only 62% of that visited when we had sea-turtles as a theme. More than 550,000 visitors already went through the exhibition and most important of all, most of them were touched by what they saw. It is not unusual to find people with tears looking at the beauty of the aquarium. When you listen to what they say, it is normally related to ancient memories of childhood that surface when they experience the exhibition.


Yes, after 7 months I can say that the exhibition is surpassing everything we anticipated and Mr. Amano’s ambition of changing people’s hearts by showing them the beauty of nature is really happening.




Mr. Brian Zimmerman
Curator of Aquarium, Zoological Society of London, United Kingdom


Since the first Nature World Aquarium book was published by Mr. Amano, I have been a great admirer of his ability to create magical underwater scenes with living plants as the focus and fish in a supporting role.


When I finally had the opportunity to see one of his incredible creations for myself, the stunning Forests Underwater at Oceanário de Lisboa, I rushed at the chance.  I was fortunate enough to attend the exhibition opening and was truly overwhelmed by the experience.  To see such a magnificent underwater scene with plants swaying in the currents and fish darting through the landscape is an experience I will never forget.  It brought a whole new dimension of understanding and appreciation of Mr Amano’s work to me.


As an aquarium curator I am fortunate to see many types of aquarium exhibit around the world so it takes something really special or different to overwhelm me.  Forests Underwater did overwhelm me with its beauty, tranquillity, attention to detail and a level of sophistication that is rarely achieved in our modern world.






Mr. Adam Paszczela
Managing Director, Aquarius & Aquadam, Poland


In October of this year I had the pleasure of conducting workshops and presentations during the fair Iberzoo in Barcelona. During this visit I had the opportunity to work with the best aquascapers. On the eve of departure to Poland, the organizer of Iberzoo prepared a trip to Oceanário de Lisboa in Lisbon for all persons conducting lectures. When we arrived at the aquarium the director Mr.João Falcato was waiting for us.


The visit began with a presentation of the film in the conference room. Mr. Falcato recalled the whole process of creating an aquarium, Forests Underwater. We watched together a great movie which additionally contains information about the technical aspects of the project. After the presentation part, Mr. Falcao led us to the exhibition of Forests Underwater.


It was at that moment I was standing and reading a biography of my master. The sounds of great music came to me from the main hall. Yet I could not see the huge aquarium that for a moment, just for one moment I went to the main hall. I will not forget that moment I saw it for the rest of my life.


And the emotions that accompanied me then were difficult to describe. Previously, I did not think that this visit would be as difficult and exciting to me. I felt an extraordinary closeness to the place and everything that was a fragment of a beautiful composition of Forests Undewater brought back memories. Memories of working together with Sensei, memories of work sounds in the unique atmosphere and memories that prevailed during the whole week working together on the arrangement of this wonderful work.


The emotions were so strong that for many minutes I could not control emotions and the time seemed to stop for those few moments. Time stopped and stepped back more to move me a few months ago. The moment that I will never forget. Every day, I proudly and gratefully remember those days.


Forests Underwater is a masterpiece of the great master, and his tribute to Mother Nature. This is a symphony of beauty and unbelievable symbiosis of art and nature. Forests Underwater, its 40 meter scenery, thank you for your genius.


Master I will never forget you, and I thank you for everything.


your student,






Mr.Yago Alonso Giménez
Manager, ADA Iberica, Spain


The last event for the Iberzoo tradeshow was the visit to Forests Underwater. A date that I won’t forget.


It was Monday 19 of October. We arrived early in the morning to Lisbon. Mr. Joao Falcato welcomed us at the main entrance of the Oceonario de Lisboa. Then, we moved to the conference room. Joao was so kind to start the visit with a speech of the whole process of the creation of Forests Underwater, and the story advanced, memories arose and with every sentence emotion started flowing. Then, we walked our way to the exhibition. The same stairs and corridors that 9 months ago we walked effortlessly many times, moved by the passion and honour of team as we knew that was doing an historical event. Joao came to my side and advise me that I will be thrilled when I step in…


As I was entering the room with a huge expectation, my heart started beating strongly, the music and sounds filled me and then a vision arose in front of me… time froze, skin deep emotions stormed all over, I felt overwhelmed by the supernatural beauty …


I immediately deeply understood the true meaning of Mr. Amano quoted ‘Create nature is the ultimate luxury’ and ‘To know mother nature is to love her smallest creations”.


His vision was alive, real… the masterpiece was ended. I expended hours staring at every detail: fish’s behaviour was natural, completely different from small tank, the size of plant leaves was huge, the explosion of colours, the gentle flow of water was the rhythm of the dancing leaves…


As I talked with Mr. Falcato, we agreed that Forests Underwater is one of those rare things in life that overcame all obstacle miraculously to happen.


Forests Underwater is a present: an aquatic paradise dream, the Sistine Chapel of the Nature Artist, the 1st Aquatic Wonder of the World.


Mr. Amano was the person who committed all his life to one vision: the Nature Aquarium, he evolved the fish bowl to a living artwork. He took the plain glass, with sea gravel and fishes, to the balance of nature, a qualitative change which implies science, knowledge, technics, creativity, beauty, sensibility… He transformed the plain fish keeper to a nature creator artist.


His legacy is our most precious present from him…Thank you.






Mr. Rodrigo Leão


About a year ago, the Oceanário de Lisboa came to me with a proposal for something different from everything I had ever done before: to create the soundscape for an exhibition by the great Japanese aquarist and designer, Takashi Amano, a master in his chosen trade. His project was so complete, so peaceful, and so full of harmony, that it really didn’t need any music – and that made the challenge even harder. To be a part of such an impressive exhibition as Forests Underwater and to be able to follow its construction from the beginning was one of the most enriching experiences I have had in my life.


The Forests Underwater is a true daydream. Takashi Amano takes us on a voyage through a world full of life and motion, always changing, always growing! Any music I can create for it will always be insignificant next to his genius. All I can do is therefore thank him for such an opportunity.


Thank you, Takashi Amano.





Mr. Anže Peršin


Lisbon, December


The constant changing of life forms in the aquarium tells us something about our own changing nature. In order to notice the change, you must come and observe it often. That tells me something about dedication, loyalty and focus.


To make it was the focus of Takashi Amano during the building of the aquarium in Lisbon that will remain a constant inspiration. Standing outside the glass wall of a still empty aquarium, he would direct his team to position an element inside the aquarium – a tree trunk, a bunch of stones. He would then step back, observe, correct if necessary, observe again, and move on – with the element in place for good. The focus of an experienced archer: in one unbroken flow, raise the bow, pull the bowstring, focus on the target, breath out. And release. Every time I go see that aquarium, I see the man looking through a glass wall and the forever changing of what’s behind it.






Mr. Pedro A. Pina


I was asked to describe what are my feelings towards the exhibition created by Mr. Takashi Amano. To be honest, I’m not a person who usually describes feelings. I prefer to feel them. But I’ll try anyway, because the world created by Mr. Amano is truly an amazing one.


I’ve been photographing Oceanário de Lisboa for a few years now, and it’s a job that I really like to do. In fact, I don’t even see it as a job, since it brings me true happiness when I do it. One day, Oceanário asked me if I would like to photograph the building process of a new aquarium. I had never heard of ADA or Mr. Amano until that moment.


From the first day I started shooting the creation of this astonishing new world, I completely fell in love with it. Now, every time I enter that room, a sense of relaxation and serenity fills my entire being.


And what amazes me the most is the fact that it’s never the same; it changes, it evolves every time I go there, and it behaves like a single living organism. I can literally sit there for hours just watching that universe, observing the way nature works.


In other words, it’s a true honour that I was allowed to be a part of that piece of art. Whenever I’m asked to do some more pictures of the aquarium, I know it’ll be a good day. I know I’ll have a smile on my face when the “job” is done.





Mr. Nuno Gama
Fashion Stylist


“When I visit the exhibition I found my underwater Peace”