People : Manager of Noboribetsu Marine Park Nixe, welcoming its 30th anniversary

Noboribetsu Marine Park Nixe Manager Eiji Sugawa

Some ten thousand sardines swim in a swirling school in “The Milky Way Pool,” a permanent exhibit in Noboribetsu City’s “Noboribetsu Marine Park Nixe” aquarium. The lighting brightness and color change in conjunction with the heart-healing music. This display was made for taking photographs, and ever since the special lighting setup was added in 2015, posting and uploading has flowed unceasingly on social media. In fact, the display has become the star attraction of the aquarium. Manager Eiji Sugawa emanated excitement about creating new display styles, saying, “There are visitors who come specifically to see this display. The employees have all become actively involved in trying to come up with new ways of showing the fish to everyone.”
Thirty years have passed since Noboribetsu Marine Park Nixe first opened. The visitor count has dropped due to the novel coronavirus, and Sugawa spoke the pain in his heart, saying, “Our future seems dark.” However, there are also glimpses of hope in stirrings such as the Ainu culture revival center “National Ainu Museum & Park (Upopoy)” launching in the neighboring town of Shiraoi and an increase in school field trips.
Eiji Sugawa hails from Sapporo. After working as a manager at a Yubari City hotel and other establishments, in 2013 he joined Hokkaido Marine Park, the company that manages Noboribetsu Marine Park Nixe. He has focused on promotion in countries like Taiwan and China, bringing the ratio of foreign visitors up to about half of the total visitor count. His belief is, “The aquarium business was completely new to me, but the mission of having visitors leave with smiles on their faces was ultimately the same as what I did in my previous career,” and in 2017 he started an exhibit for goldfish, which are popular all over Asia. He has employed interesting innovations, such as positioning tanks in a mirrored room to display fish from multiple angles.
Sugawa explained, “I want to rethink the core framework of the aquarium with an eye on ten or even twenty years in the future.” He also has his eye on advanced display techniques from other countries. “I also want to consider an educational display that shows what dolphins in Funka Bay (Uchiura Bay) eat,” he said. Eiji Sugawa is 51 years old.


Noboribetsu Marine Park Nixe