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Past, Present and Future.

Takashi Amano, the visionary behind the Nature Aquarium concept, led a multifaceted career. Not only was he a pioneering aquascape artist, but he also helmed Aqua Design Amano Co., Ltd. as its CEO. Beyond the confines of aquascaping, he was a renowned ecology and landscape photographer, capturing the serenity and beauty of the natural world.


Born in 1954 in Niigata-shi (formerly Maki-machi), Niigata, Japan, Takashi Amano pioneered the integration of natural ecosystems into aquatic plant layouts, leading to the development of his distinctive "Nature Aquarium" style. In 1982, he established Aqua Design Amano, a company renowned for its high-quality "Nature Aquarium Goods" that seamlessly merged functionality with aesthetic design.


In 1992, Amano's photographic prowess shone in the publication of "Glass no Naka no Daishizen," a photobook that would later be translated into seven languages, accompanied by "Mizu-Shizen eno Kaiki." Both works have played pivotal roles in fostering a global community of Nature Aquarium enthusiasts.


While a successful entrepreneur, Amano never strayed far from his love for the natural world. Since 1975, he journeyed to three of the world's prime tropical rainforests—Amazon, Borneo, and West Africa—and ventured into untouched Japanese forests. Armed with large-format cameras, he meticulously captured nature's intricacies on expansive film sizes, reaching up to 8x20 inches. These breathtaking images have graced international exhibitions and publications, garnering worldwide acclaim.


Over recent years, Amano shared his profound experiences with nature through lectures across the globe, from Japan to Spain, the USA to Malaysia. Passionately, he emphasized the critical role of tree-planting initiatives in safeguarding our planet's environment.

  • President of the International Environment Photographers Association

  • Member of the Society of Scientific Photography

  • Member of the Japan Advertising Photographers’ Association

  • Member of the Society of Scientific Photography


Learn from Nature, Create Nature

Nature Aquariums: Drawing Inspiration Directly from Nature's Canvas

At first glance, planted aquariums and landscape photographs might seem unconnected. Yet, for Amano, they are intrinsically intertwined facets of his creative journey. A Nature Aquarium doesn't emerge from a vacuum. Anchored by its principle, "Learn from Nature", it is a testament to the idea that true aquatic artistry cannot exist without the muse of the natural world.

Amano's method involves absorbing countless vistas through his landscape photography. He imprints these natural impressions deep in his psyche. When it's time to design a Nature Aquarium, these accumulated images become the wellspring from which his creations flow. This symbiotic relationship between observing nature and recreating its essence is what sets Nature Aquariums apart from other aquatic design methodologies.

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Osado Mountain Range, Sado, Japan


Cube Garden W180×D60×H60(cm)

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Chasing Vivid and Detailed Landscape Imagery:

A Unique Glimpse into the Nature Aquarium through Specialized Photography.

Photographing a vast aquarium (measuring W4×D1.5×H1.5m) poses unique challenges that differ from standard aquarium photography. While it may not be immediately apparent, there's a distinct difference in brightness between the areas above and below the waterline. This disparity makes it difficult to employ a single exposure setting to capture both regions accurately.

To address this, the multiple-exposure technique was devised. In this method, separate photos are taken for the above and underwater sections (details provided in the column below). This approach is not for the faint-hearted; it's a high-stakes process. Employing several large-format cameras, the above-water portion is photographed first from the furthest distance, followed by the underwater segment, taken from a closer vantage point. As a result, this technique demands double the effort of conventional photography methods.

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Witnessing a collection of large-format cameras in a single setting is a remarkable sight. The shooting process is intricately planned, much like assembling a jigsaw puzzle, to ensure none of the cameras are visible in the final shot.

Each large-format film is carefully loaded into a holder crafted specifically for its dimensions. To prevent any distortion, the film is vacuum-sealed, ensuring its perfect flatness. This meticulous procedure helps avoid even the slightest hint of an out-of-focus shot. After capturing the section above (or outside) the water, attention turns to the underwater segment. The tank's surroundings and windows are draped in black, plunging the space into darkness, with only the submerged section illuminated for clarity.


The sight of numerous large-format cameras in one location is truly awe-inspiring. Much like piecing together a puzzle, the shooting process is meticulously orchestrated to ensure no cameras appear in the final image.


Amazon, a Sanctuary for
Nature Aquarium

Photo expeditions gave inspiration to the product development and proved that ADA’s unique theory and methods conformed to the order of nature.

Amano has dedicated his life to photographing and researching the world's three major tropical rainforests, along with the untouched forests of Japan. Among his numerous expeditions, he has frequently explored Rio Negro and other Amazon regions, holding a special fascination for aquarists. Here, he has documented the vibrant aquatic life, particularly the tropical fish and plants of the Amazon. During a 1999 expedition, Amano made a groundbreaking capture: underwater photographs of the Cardinal tetra and angelfish in their natural habitats. While these species were already popular, their natural behaviors and habitats were enigmatic at that time.

Amano often remarked, "While space exploration advances, we remain largely ignorant about our own planet's jungles." His photographic approach was comprehensive: capturing the rainforest from the air, on the ground, and underwater. These expeditions not only fueled his artistic vision but also informed the development of ADA products, reinforcing the belief that the principles of Nature Aquarium align with the natural order. Amano believed his immersive experiences in nature instinctively honed his artistic sensibility, which was then manifest in his aquascaping designs.

Regrettably, the lush tropical rainforests and pristine beaches Amano so passionately captured are diminishing at an alarming rate. Having observed nature both in Japan and globally, Amano remained a vigilant guardian of Mother Nature, actively addressing environmental challenges.

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Introduce Nature Aquarium
to the World

Convey the concept and philosophy of Nature Aquarium through practice to spread and grow it into a common global culture.


Promote the philosophy and principles of Nature Aquarium through hands-on engagement, aiming to cultivate it as a universally embraced global tradition.


Spreading the ethos of the Nature Aquarium was a mission close to Amano's heart. He journeyed globally, passionately delivering lectures on the allure and techniques of the Nature Aquarium, with the aim of embedding it as a universal cultural appreciation. As interest burgeoned, underscored by publications and the International Aquatic Plants Layout Contest, ADA was inundated with international requests for seminars helmed by Takashi Amano himself.


In these seminars, Amano typically commenced with slide presentations, articulating the core principles of the Nature Aquarium. These slides were meticulously crafted to encapsulate and convey the essence of natural landscapes from places like the Amazon, Borneo, West Africa, and Japan, guiding attendees on translating these vistas into aquascaping inspirations. Central to his teachings was the maxim "learn from nature" – a sentiment he considered foundational to the Nature Aquarium philosophy.


The seminars crescendoed with Amano's live demonstrations, where he would craft an aquascape in real-time. For many international aquarists, their prior exposure to Nature Aquarium designs was limited to Amano's published works. These workshops thus offered a rare chance to witness the magic of Nature Aquarium creation firsthand.


Today, ADA EU continues this legacy, hosting workshops led by premier aquascapers. Stay updated with our latest announcements and events by following our news and social media channels.

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At a workshop in Interzoo

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Atlanta, USA
AGA Convention organized by the Aquatic Gardeners Association, one of the world’s largest organizations of aquatic plant enthusiasts.

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