Remember all those toys you had as a kid that seemed so cutting-edge at the time? They probably don’t seem quite as exciting any more with all the advances in technology over the years. In fact, you’ll be willing to trade your Furby in a heartbeat once you see what these Japanese kids get to play with nowadays!

Take the “Sketch Aquarium” for example – a play area where children can foster their creative skills by designing a fish and then interact with it in a virtual tank. I wonder if adults are allowed in, too…

The genius behind this new self-dubbed “future park” is a group called teamLab which aims to provide children with a space to play and learn together. Drawing on the common knowledge that most Japanese education emphasizes rote memorization, they developed the virtual aquarium in the hopes of “encouraging children to become creative through collaboration.”

The play area utilizes the latest technology while at the same time encouraging children to move their bodies, interact with one another, and work collaboratively on honing their creative skills.

Here’s how it works:

First, children choose a template of the fish that they want to see swim in the aquarium and color it however they like.


Next, they scan the completed drawing on a special machine.


Their fish will then magically appear on the giant screen and start swimming around! The images are even programmed to move like real fish, undulating and changing direction in the water.


You may be pleasantly surprised to see that fish of the same type will sometimes create schools and swim together!


Adding a playful, interactive element to the display, a piece of food will appear when children get close to the digital screen, causing the fish to swarm. On the other hand, if they try to touch a fish, it will probably high-tail it out of there.


Doesn’t such a cool toy make you feel like you were gypped in childhood? With this kind of technology, I wouldn’t be surprised if we started seeing virtual pokémon pets in the near future (*fingers crossed*)!

Currently, the Sketch Aquarium is only open for limited periods of time at certain locations throughout Japan. Let’s hope that as word spreads more permanent locations will be announced!

Sources/Images: Spotlight, teamLab Kids Inc.