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Thread: Nid at ADA HQ (The full story with pictures)

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    Nid at ADA HQ (The full story with pictures)

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    Hi, everyone,

    Nid (aka Tarepunda), my good friend who lives in Bangkok, Thailand sent me a CD yesterday. It contains the pictures of her trip to ADA Headquarters in Nigata, Japan. She also wrote an article of the trip in Thai and Budak who visited Bangkok recently edited the translated version. Here's the edited article (in italics) and the pictures of the trip. Nid is the girl standing on the right of Amano-san in the first picture. I don't know who the other 2 girls are but I can tell you it pays to have nice planted tanks - beautiful girls travel hundreds of miles to meet you .

    First of all, I wish to thank the Aqua Magazine Production Team for giving me the opportunity to present this report.

    Do you still remember the “Dao Noi” featured in “Your Style” column last December? Well, this story has something to do with Dao Noi again. It began with my childhood dream that one day I could visit Japan. A few months ago, I received an invitation from an older friend, Pui, who owns her own business in the Shinjuku area of Tokyo, the country’s ultra-modern, high tech and attractive capital city.

    Pui was kind enough to give me free lodgings during my stay. This was early in the year, so the weather was cold and some snow had been falling. It was also the time for some local festivals.

    Then, I was very excited. At the same time, I was worried about many things, such as my visa and my job. But opportunity had knocked on my door, so I took it. I applied for the visa, and after I had done everything that was required, I transferred my job responsibilities to my family. During the visa application, I showed them all the documents I had. I was very excited about the result of the application, and afraid that maybe I couldn’t get it. But in the end, everything went smoothly.

    After that, it was time to think about the traveling program. I bought plenty of books about the interesting places in Japan and books about how to live in Japan to prepare for my visit. At first, I though I would visit the places that my friends recommended. But before departing, I then thought, why don’t I visit the gallery of Mr. Takeshi Amano, the excellent Japanese aquatic plant decorator who has created gorgeously decorated tanks that have impressed aquatic plant keepers from all over the world? I wished I could see his 4 metre-long tank and see him there as well. This trip to Japan would be really worthwhile if my wish could come true.

    Many friends told me that I should prepare for disappointment, because they knew that Mr. Amano undertakes many journeys and is very busy all the time. He probably would not have the time to see me. Nonetheless, I thought I had to try. First, I send him an email to seek an appointment, if he were able to see me. Then I thought, I should have something, a souvenir, to offer him. I know he is an aquatic plant collector, so it came to me that the gift should be the Dao Noi – Pogostemon helferi. Just to be sure, I sent him another email with an attached picture of the plant, and asked him if he had this species already. If so, I would bring another plant for him.

    2 days after I sent the email, Mr. Hayakawa, one of Mr. Amano’s staff, replied that Mr. Amano might not be available, as he was not scheduled to be in Japan at that time. But if he could return before I had to return to Thailand, he would be glad to see me. Mr. Hayakawa added that Mr. Amano had never seen the Dao Noi before. So it seem my wish could just come true.

    The day I started my journey, I packed my bags. It was the first time in my life that I had to travel by plane alone. But I felt warmth because Thai Airways loves and takes care of you as much as the whole wide sky. At least there were fellow Thais taking care of us during the flight on the plane.

    Finally, my dream comes true! After the plane landed at Narita airport, Tokyo, in the morning, Pui and Jeab were waiting for me and picked me up. It was very cold. Fortunately, I had a thick jacket. But it was still very cold. In this foreign country, I had to prepare for different experiences. I was lucky that I did not have problems with the food, as I eat Japanese dishes very often and it felt good to have to chance to taste the original Japanese cuisine. You can guess from my weight gain during the trip whether the dishes were delicious…..

    After getting used to the new and different environment, the adventures began with visits to various places together with my private tour guides.  The difficulty with the Japanese language is one important thing because more people here can’t speak English. But it wasn’t a big deal, as my friends could speak Japanese well. Otherwise, we might as well have been deaf and starving.

    In my first week in Japan, I contacted Mr. Hayakawa to make an appointment to visit the ADA gallery. He replied that I could see Mr. Amano on the following Saturday. How nice! Now my second dream is going to come true! I obtained the exact time and location, including the recommended route from Tokyo to Niigata by Shinkansen (Japanese bullet train).

    But after we found out the train ticket price, we changed our minds as it was simply too expensive. If all three of us took this route, we would be broke! So we decided to drive. Another problem was the Dao Noi. It could not be kept for too long, so we sent it to ADA using express mail. After 2 days, Mr. Hayakama called to say that he had received the plant. It still looked good after 5 days in the bag. He also asked about the details of growing this species, the facts of which were explained in Aqua Magazine last December. I did not forget to bring a copy of the magazine for Mr. Amano too.

    While awaiting the big day, we visited many other places. One highlight was Tokyo’s Shinagawa Aquarium, which has exhibits and information about both freshwater and marine life. The interesting point of this place for me is Clione Limacina, a sea slug that lives under icy seas. This creature’s appearance is strange but lovely. Almost all the information available was in Japanese, so I can’t tell you all the details. But I can show you the many pictures I took at the aquarium!

    At last, the important day had come! I was very excited, and all 3 of us had to get up before sunrise because the day’s journey would be very long. The distance between Tokyo and Niikata is more than 350 kilometres, so altogether, we would have to drive more than 700 km that day. And the thought of the traffic jams in Tokyo made it worse.

    It was good that I didn’t have to drive by myself. The appointment was at 10 am, but we would be late. We had got up at 5 am, but by 9 am, we were still not even halfway there. It so happened that the route we took was also taken by many people on their way to ski. It was a holiday and the weather was good for skiing. We hadn’t thought of this obstacle, so we had to call and postpone the appointment time.

    After we passed the critical traffic jams, we tried to be as fast as we could. But still, we reached ADA only at 11.30 am. I was worried that Mr. Amano would not wait for me! But after I got there, Mr. Hayakawa was there to greet us at the carpark and he told us that Mr. Amano was waiting for us inside. How great!! How kind of him!

    Mr. Hayakawa took us into the gallery, which is a rectangular building painted in simple white, with no emphasis on outside decorations. On the way to the gallery, there is a very long tank embedded in the wall. Then, we walked along a path on the right to get to the aquatic plant gallery which has about 20 tanks, neatly arranged. There were also some marine aquariums.

    All the tanks in the gallery had metal halide lighting and all the equipment used are the products of ADA. They are not for sale, and if you want to buy any product, you have to go to the dealers. So I didn’t have to spend any money here, because if the items were for sale, I would have bought a lot. Everything here is well-designed. Apart from displaying the freshwater and marine tanks, this gallery is used be Mr. Amano to meet visiting clients in a very nice, natural environment that reduces stress and helps in discussions and negotiations.

    Next to the planted tanks is a corner for photo equipment, where the visitor can get a chance to learn to take excellent photos like Mr. Amano’s. If you could see this corner, you will realize how a professional photographer works. Actually, I wanted to see how they take the pictures, but this time, I had to patient because Mr. Amano was waiting for use at the tank area.

    Before this day, I had only seen Mr. Amano from pictures. This time, the real Mr. Amano is truly impressive, and yet kind and gentle looking. After greetings and taking some pictures, Mr. Amano took us to the 2nd level of the building, which is his working area. He invited us to have conversation in his working room. It’s a 2-sided glass room. We can see the whole environment outside the windows. It makes us feel gentle and comfortable. After I have seen the decorative style of his room, I realize he is a truly creative artist. Besides decorating tanks, he is also an antique collector, with antique furniture, classic record player and embellishments in the corners.

    After talking with Mr. Amano, I feel that he is a very nice and easy-going guy. Of course, this is not a formal visit so the conversation was not stressful. But my excitement and difficulty with the language sure made it hard to make good conversation! It was good that I had 2 translators with me. Anyway, I felt very, very happy to see him after waiting for so long.

    As my friends have told me, Mr. Amano has tremendous experience in this field. He has been growing aquatic plants since he was 19. His reason for doing this is that he was impressed by the beauty of aquatic plant species in nature and wanted to take this beauty with him into his home. So he started to study the plants and tried to grow them.

    In the beginning, he was just an ordinary aquarist, but had the strong intention and will to study seriously and grow the aquatic plants until he found success and became well-known in this field. And now the aquatic plant field is very popular and Mr. Amano is acknowledged as a great decorator and is well-known around the world. Mr. Amano has been growing aquatic plants for more than 30 years. The various styles of tanks he has done are shown in his magazine, Aqua Journal. The journal appeared only in Japanese at first, but for a while an English version was also published. The tanks shown in Aqua Journal are almost all Mr. Amano’s works. Besides the magazine, Mr. Amano also works to develop the equipment for the hobby in the name of ADA. Unfortunately, there is no ADA dealer in Thailand at the moment.

    We asked Mr. Amano about his 4 metre long tank. He said that this tank too much more time to locate. To decorate inside the tank, it took him only 2 hours (oh dear, my little tank took a whole day!). I didn’t have a chance to see this tank, but hope to do so next time.

    In the afternoon, Mr. Amano invited us to have lunch with him and his 5 staff members. During lunch, we made simple conversation. His staff are very nice people. Everybody is so kind. Then we all took pictures together. After lunch, we went back to the gallery and took pictures of his tanks. He then left Mr. Hayakawa with us to answer our questions. It was fun because I like taking pictures. So I took more than 200 pictures and have selected some cool pictures to show you all – both freshwater and marine planted tanks. But I have to tell you that some of the pictures may not as beautiful as the real thing because the light reflection was too much sometimes.

    If anybody has the chance to go to Japan and have enough time, I would recommend you to visit this place. I guarantee that it is gorgeous. The one thing that most impressed me was the opportunity to have a picture with Mr. Amano. Before we left for Tokyo, Mr. Amano signed on a copy of Aqua Journal and gave it to me. How lovely! And he also sent us to the carpark and waved goodbye.

    What an impressive experience! I felt very tired, but it felt so much fun and happy.

    I must thank Pui and Jeab for taking care of me and helping me in many things, including my accommodation, driving to see Mr. Amano and translating during my stay in Japan. Thank you Non for the Dao Noi that gave me a chance to see Mr. Amano and thank you to my friends for the will and encouragement you gave to me. I hope that I can have a chance to write and share my experience with all of you again.






















    More pics coming up........

    Loh K L

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    More pics coming up............

    Loh K L

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    Loh K L

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    Awesome!!!

    I like the super neat tank and cabinet, though abit too cold in design. The open tank concept is great. The tanks are filled with water till tank top create the effect of water in the air feel.

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    Wow, great article and pictures. I never realized how thick the substrate on his tanks are. The tank with all the Cryptocorynes look gorgeous. It has bit of jungle look.
    -Mark Mendoza

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    Great pics! I just can't help wondering, won't the fish jump out of the tank with all tanks water filled to the rim? But again, if I'm the fish, why jump when you have such beautiful enviroment to live in!

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    As for myself. I did not get to meet Mr Amano during my trip to Niigata in June as he was away in Europe, I think. However, let me say this... The trip to Niigata was well worth it. The best planted tanks that I have ever.
    Check out Wynx' Blog
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  8. #8
    A bunch of us were talking about Amano's tanks the other day. Apparently, the showroom is only open on certain days. This led some of us to joke that perhaps there is a team of staff dedicated to scrubbing off algae from all crevices on days when the showroom is closed!

    Beautiful tanks indeed. And some ADA products are like products of art themselves (as are the prices). Fancy paying S$9 for a plastic container?

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    Awesome! I am blown over by the pictures.

    ADA Headquarters at Niigata, Japan is now on the my wish list of places I must visit.

    Thank you Nid for sharing your visit. That was a wonderful tour you have taken me through.

    A few questions though -

    1. What is the wattage of the Mh lights used here?
    2. How tall are the tanks?
    3. How deep (wide) are the tanks?
    Madan Subramanian
    Bangalore, India.

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    Like Nid, due to the high ticket fare, I was reluctunt to travel by Shinkansen (bullet train) when I was leaving for Tokyo from Nagoya. However, I did and the experince was good:
    1) It has commercial plane like seat
    2) Feel and sounds like travelling in a car on good highway but very fast
    3) There is service like drinks and snacks (chargeable)
    4) I got to see scenaries, landscape, towns along the journey
    5) Interestingly, throughout the whole journey (2 hours), I can see that all towns are built around densely (very intensive) around the stations. The rest of the tracks are vast empty lands.

    Quote Originally Posted by turaco
    Great pics! I just can't help wondering, won't the fish jump out of the tank with all tanks water filled to the rim?
    That's the last thing in Amano's mind (he has chilids somewhere? ).

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    It is really amazing how clear the water is and how clean the glass and tubing are ! It reminds me of those newly setup tanks at exhibitions such as Aquarama.



    Look at those super clean tubings !

    Quote Originally Posted by mrs budak
    A bunch of us were talking about Amano's tanks the other day. Apparently, the showroom is only open on certain days. This led some of us to joke that perhaps there is a team of staff dedicated to scrubbing off algae from all crevices on days when the showroom is closed!
    That crossed my mind as well and I won't be surprised if they actually do that ;-)
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    I think they either replace their tubings every now and then or they just clean the tubings with super long brushes. My tank has been through so many changes and the water is still clear. Only when I disturb the substrate do I see any particles in the water. Anyone and everyone in the world can replicate such "clean" conditions. Just that it requires alot of work. Tubing's pretty cheap if you buy those meant for home use. Just that its not economically feasible to be changing them ALL the time. Maybe for festive occasions would be fine but never for the whole year. Its odd. An algae-encrusted tubing looks real nice to me.

    I would agree with Mrs Budak that the ADA equipment are indeed designed as works of art. But to me, they certainly don't command those prices. Take this for example, I saw some pieces of slate being sold in small packets and labelled as ADA "Plant Rock" for tying mosses and riccia. The price was something like $20+ for 4 small (and I mean small, smaller than credit card size) pieces of slate? I think you can save that money and use detachable UGF plates for tying instead. Works just as well. ADA has their own designed canister filter but then again, nothing beats Eheim. IMO, I think the Germans have better stuff at better prices.

    Just one question, are the range of products from ADA more expensive in comparison to the other "expensive" brand aka Dennerle
    Fish.. Simply Irresistable
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    Quote Originally Posted by stormhawk
    Just one question, are the range of products from ADA more expensive in comparison to the other "expensive" brand aka Dennerle
    It depends where you buy them, Jianyang. About 5 years ago, there was only one fish shop selling Dennerle and ADA products. The latter was slightly more expensive but that's due to marketing. When I was in Hongkong, the ADA products were cheaper.

    In any case, it's hard to compare prices because we are talking about different models of products here. The products may serve the same purpose but the designs and quality are different.

    By the way, about the ADA cannister filter, what I know it's actually made by EHEIM too. I can't be sure but I heard only the colour is different. It's like many other products in the market. Very few companies make everything. Many of the aquarium lights on sale are actually lights used for industrial purposes. Only the wrapping is different.

    ADA products are very well-designed but they don't come cheap. Obviously, you can find substitutes that work just as well and are a lot cheaper. But some hobbyists with deep pockets may not mind paying for ADA. It's like buying a watch. They all perform the same function, that is, tell the time but some can cost the earth but many are so cheap you can easily afford a whole row of them on your arm.

    Having ADA products in your tank is also a way of telling everyone you have arrived , same goes for wearing a Rolex.

    Loh K L

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    I definately don't mind to pay more if their products are treated with some kind of anti-algae coating. :wink:

    Regards,
    Ong Poh San

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    So many beautiful tanks! I personally prefer the more contrived, more colorful tanks (lots of red plants, etc.), but I can not deny that Amano is so very talented. How nice to have him so successful as well, to bring the hobby a little more out 'in the open.' Being able to make a hobby into a business -- well, that just sounds like a wonderful thing.
    Deborah

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    Quote Originally Posted by stormhawk
    I think they either replace their tubings every now and then or they just clean the tubings with super long brushes.
    Art Giacosa mention in this thread that ADA uses a bleach solution call SuperGee to clean their pipes and tubes.
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