A dolphin pool, a penguin park and a giant wave pool could soon join the imperial-era townhouses and ancient Buddhist temples in Kyoto, Japan’s former imperial capital.
As early as June, work will begin on a mammoth aquarium complex in central Kyoto, in leafy Umekoji Park at the center of the city. A brainchild of the Orix Real Estate Corporation, the project could breathe new life into Kyoto’s tourism industry by attracting more than two million visitors a year, developers say.
But to opponents, the proposed aquarium, set to open in 2012, is a misguided enterprise that threatens to destroy Kyoto’s historic ambience. Adding to the disgrace, they say, is Orix’s plan to showcase dolphins in a 19,000-square-foot pool at a time when the nation is under fire for hunting thousands of dolphins and porpoises each year.In the postwar period, Kyoto has shown little concern for preserving the traditional neighborhoods that would most appeal to foreign tourists, he said. The pace of destruction gathered speed in the 1990s; more than 40,000 old wooden homes disappeared from central Kyoto that decade, according to the International Society to Save Kyoto.
Though ancient temples and gardens remain in the city, they are overwhelmed by the sprawling mass of gray buildings and neon signs that dominate the skyscape — the product of ineffective zoning policies in the city, Mr. Kerr said.
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