picture of the day



A girl scoops up a goldfish during a local festival at Namiyoke Inari shrine in Tokyo on Sunday. The shrine is located adjacent to Tsukiji Fish Market. Namiyoke means "protection from the waves."

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Does she learn to love nature from this? Or does she learn that living things are there simply for human pleasure and exploitation? Maybe neither but as she goes through her life in this country the latter will gradually be reinforced in her mind.

5 ( +11 / -6 )

It's a pretty photo but I still feel sorry for the goldfish, all of them.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

The fish used in this kind of festival event tend to be of poor quality and poor health. They've been transported here and there, tipped unceremoniously from one bucket of water to another with little to no thought of sudden changes in water temperature, pH, etc., and probably not fed once since the stallholder bought them from the breeder (or more likely, from a series of middlemen who also probably never fed them).

The easier they are for that little girl to catch, the less likely they are to last more than a couple of days once she gets them home, then that happy little smile on her sweet face will turn to tears.

If you want to teach your child the joys of looking after fish, make sure you have a proper set-up with gravel, plants, filter, etc., and buy some healthy fish from a reputable breeder/pet shop. Don't teach her that fish are for no more than a week after the festival.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

At least they've stopped doing that thing with the baby chicks. Haven't they?

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Great picture!

2 ( +4 / -2 )

At least they've stopped doing that thing with the baby chicks. Haven't they?

So that's why. I haven't seen chicks at festivals lately. Goldfish scooping has been a fixture at local festivals for decades. It may well be a thing of the past too.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I love photos like this. There's so little evidence of "today" in it and could easily be a photo from 40 - 60 years ago.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Cute pic, despite the rather cruel 'game' she's playing with the fish. Half will be dead before she gets the bag home (if she keeps them, if not they'll just die in the small tank), the rest the next day.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

At most festivals nowadays it's just catch and release. It's also a good time to teach kids about the responsibility of being a pet owner.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

A death sentence for the poor goldfish. So much for buddhism and respect for all sentient beings.

0 ( +3 / -3 )


I think you mean Shinto and not Buddhism. Very few festivals at a Buddhist Temple.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Its Me, japanese like to think of themselves as incorporating both belief systems into their society. "We japanese are buddhist" is something Ive heard a lot.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Beautiful photo of a caring and loving child interacting, perhaps for the first time, with an animal. At least thats what i see (manners, smile etc)

No idea how words like death and cruelty come to mind.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

My son caught two goldfish five years ago and they are doing quite well. Instead of only looking down at this practice, children have an opertunity to learn how to properly care for a living creatures. He's learned that to have healthy fish, you need to start with healthy water, NOT tap water with impurities that KILL fish. He learned how to keep the water healthy by keeping it clean, adding plants and movement of water to give oxygen. All great lessons that every human should know and transfer those lessons to our own environment!

I understand that keeping fish in captivity might not be the best thing in a perfect world, though children and even some adults can lean a lot by taking good care of them. We enjoy our living fish and my son cares for them as if they were part of the family.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Hasn't heard that in 20yrs, it is true that most Japanese follow parts of both religions but Shinto is still the main one.

Also a difference between a -ji and a Tera.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Stuart Hayward: "nstead of only looking down at this practice, children have an opertunity to learn how to properly care for a living creatures."

Do you have any idea how these fish are farmed, how they are treated, and how many die and/or are tossed away? Children have plenty of opportunities to learn about animals without involving animal cruelty in the process, my friend. Hence, the 'fishing for super balls' is a much better alternative. They can still have the fun of scooping out a prize they can keep, and don't have to watch it die in their hands on the walk home.

It"S ME: "Hasn't heard that in 20yrs, it is true that most Japanese follow parts of both religions but Shinto is still the main one."

First, you hear and see it every day, whether you acknowledge it or not. No doubt you've been to a "Shinto" wedding in those 20 years, and a "Buddhist" funeral -- possibly for the same family. Regardless, the predominant religion that people claim to belong to in Japan is Buddhism, at some 56% or so.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Stuart, your goldfish were very lucky, then. They survived all the problems and stress they faced before they reached your house, and then they were lucky enough to have been caught by a little boy whose parents took the time set up a proper environment and to teach him how to look after his new pets.

The vast majority of the fish are by no means so lucky; most of them last less than a week in their new homes. I tried asking Mr Google what percentage of festival goldfish meet an early death; he couldn't give me any exact figures from reliable sources, but from what he did show me it was clearly apparent that most people's experience is that most fish are dead the next day.

Good on you for looking after the fish properly, and for teaching your son to care for his pets.

No idea how words like death and cruelty come to mind.

Easy. The fish are kept in conditions that amount to cruelty (poor water quality, exacerbated by contaminants and germs released into the water from the hands of anyone ready to part with a hundred yen), and are subjected to cruel and stressful acts such as being chased around a shallow tray and flipped into a cup by small humans using bits of flimsy paper stretched over a plastic hoop. Then they get tipped into a tiny plastic bag, swung around by said small human till it's time to go home, then popped usually still in the same dirty water into a washing-up bowl or similar because no one planned on bringing live fish home and there is no proper tank, filter or water conditioner to hand. Then by the next morning the fish is (mercifully?) dead.

And see the happy smile on that little girl's face? Next morning it will be tears because her precious new pet is floating upside down. That's cruel, too.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Stuart: One more thing. Your child can also learn about life through the purchase of pets at a pet shop, so long as you do a little research and check if the pet shop acquires its animals and treats them in a humane process (many don't, especially with dogs).

I had 7 fish live for eight years that I got at a festival, but I only took the fish because the operator of the fish scooping stall asked me to take them as she told me she was only going to dump them all anyway after things wrapped up. I took 15 in total (three little baggies with the draw string). Three died on the way home, five more over the next week, and the other seven lived a long, long time. In fact, they were still alive when I had to move into an apartment that would not even allow fish or hamsters or other pets at all, so I gave them to a co-worker at the time who had a couple of kids. Sadly, last time I talked to him he told me he had dumped them in the river less than a year later because he was tired of cleaning the tank.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Stuart, good work. Gotta agree with Cleo though - You and your family would be the exception. Except for a lucky few most of these fish have been given a death sentence as soon as theyre earmarked for events like the one in the pic.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Smith and Cleo: As I said, I understand that keeping fish in captivity is not the best concept in a perfect world and as You pointed out, YOU took fish that would have died otherwise, but justified it. My experience was similar, at the end of the day, there were about six beat up fish left in the pool, I'm sure none of them survived but I though they had a better chance with me. Being a vegetarian, I rarely support any type of animal farming or use for food, I made an exception this time. Do you eat fish and animals? Very few of those creatures are treated well, and they ALL are killed, yet I doubt you think twice? Whether you eat fish, meat or are vegetarian, it's a personal choice that I won't judge but please don't be selectively hypocritical.

I just curious of how you teach your children about not only taking care of a pet but also taking care of earths MOST precious resource, water? The simplicity of learning that our tap water is so polluted with chemicals that it kills fish, is an important lesson for all human beings. Though it doesn't kill us, it accumulatively harms your health and should tell us something about the way we ignore the health of water, ourselves and the planet. Though I do have some guilt for supporting these goldfish farmers, I'm far from perfect but I've done my best to not waist the opportunity to learn from it, while extending the life of these two fish.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Stuart, I'm not sure where your irate/defensive attitude is coming from....I thought I was praising you for teaching your son how to care for fish properly. I'm not at all sure where the claims of hypocrisy are coming from, either. (I don't eat meat, or fish; I do have pets, including (currently) four tanks housing tropical fish and shrimp, and all are very well looked after; my problem is not the fish dying off from ill treatment, but being so healthy they reproduce like no one's business.) I would not buy a puppy or a kitten from a pet shop, because I do not want to support puppy mills and back-street breeders; at the same time I will not buy wild-caught fish because it's my belief that wild animals belong in the wild, and far too many of the wild-caught fish die before they even reach the shop.

As for teaching children about chemicals in the water supply, I don't see the need to use stressed-out festival goldfish (that are more likely than not to die anyway) to do that? Since 3/11, worries about chemicals added with the intention of keeping the water infection-free have faded almost into insignificance against the possibility of radiation getting into the water supply, as it did once already.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

My apologies Cleo! Originally I was going to respond to you and smith, then I read his second reply to me and responded to it, rather than you. I'm very sorry, I meant to remove your name before posting to Smith.

As for commenting about water pollutants, whether intensional or not. ALL should be taken seriously, is one worse than the other? Sure, but there all bad! Goldfish are pretty strong when it comes to being in un-clean water, yet they won't live very long without special treatment of our own drinking water. If our own drinking water kills fish, that should be of some Importance to all human beings!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

ALL should be taken seriously, is one worse than the other?

Yes; a reasonably good filter on the tap will remove the stuff the waterworks people put in, and some. Or you can let a bottle of tap water sit for a while and the impurities will evaporate out - it's even safe for the fishes then. But the slightest possibility of Fukushima radiation in the water means that all the younger members of the family drink (and use in cooking) only water that originates far, far from eastern Japan.

Another difference of course is that we only drink the water, we don't have to breathe it...!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Cleo: I'm in complete agreement that radio active contaminants are at the top of the list in regards to dangerous water pollutants, however there are no filters that you and I can buy to remove all of those contanimants.

Even some of the best reverse osmosis systems can only reduce fluoride. The best systems can eliminate chlorine, lead, aluminum and heavy metals but there are many other things that can't be removed MTBE, Lexavalent chromium, certain pesticides and pharmaceutical products can't be removed either, though some can be, but not all.

Simply letting water sit for a while only eliminates some impurities that can evaporate, it does nothing for heavy metals. Things like MTBE are water soluble, so unless you evaporate every bit of water it will still be there, it can't be boiled out nor is there one filter on the market that removes all of it.

I'm not saying that filters are useless or a bad idea, they are helpful but they don't remove all dangerous impurities.

Though I've taken the long way! The real point and lesson is to learn about our water and how we should take care of it, rather than allowing it to be polluted first and than having to purify it before it's relatively safe to drink.

As I'm sure you know, the earth is mostly water, humans are mostly water, our brains are mostly water, therefore water should be taken care of an not taken for granted as it is today.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Who cares? They're small useless fish. There's loads of them about. Their only purpose is for our amusement. And my amusement is to dump them under a bush when I'm fed up of them or sometimes stamp on them to watch then smash.

More important things to worry about than a few useless fish.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

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