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Takashi Amano was born in Niigata-shi (Former Maki-machi), Niigata, Japan in 1954. He has incorporated ecosystem and other elements found in nature to aquatic plant layout and established his own unique style called “Nature Aquarium”. In 1982, Amano founded Aqua Design Amano. The company attracted much attention for its aquarium equipment “Nature Aquarium Goods” featuring excellent quality and design. In 1992, Amano published a photo book “Glass no Naka no Daishizen”. This book was translated into seven languages together with “Mizu-Shizen eno Kaiki”. There is now a growing number of Nature Aquarium fans all over the world. Along with the activities as an entrepreneur, Amano has visited the world’s three major tropical rainforests, namely Amazon, Borneo and West Africa, and pristine forests in Japan since 1975 and has been working on series of photos focusing on “untouched nature” with his large-format cameras. He captures minute details of nature found at site on extra large size films (up to 8x20 inches). Amano’s works have been introduced and highly appreciated internationally through several exhibitions and publications. In recent years, Amano has given numerous lectures on his rich experiences in nature in Japan and many other countries, including Spain, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Poland, Russia, USA, China, India and Malaysia, and he has advocated the importance of tree-planting programs to protect the earth’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

Past, Present and Future.

Takashi Amano, the founder of Nature Aquarium.
His career encompasses a wide range of activities as an aquascape creator, the CEO of Aqua Design Amano Co., Ltd. and an ecology & landscape photographer.


Learn from Nature, Create Nature

Envisage Nature Aquarium with
the Images Drawn from Nature

Planted aquarium and landscape photographs are seemingly not related. But in Amano’s mind, they are closely linked with each other as a seamless process of creative activity. Nature Aquarium is absolutely not created from nothing. As suggested by its concept “Learn from Nature”, Nature Aquarium is an approach for planted aquarium layout which could not be achieved without the existence of nature. Amano said he accumulates countless images of nature in his mind by taking numerous number of landscape photographs. These images will be reflected in the creation of Nature Aquarium layouts. This is what Nature Aquarium is crucially different from other planted aquarium layout techniques.

Osado Mountain Range, Sado, Japan

Cube Garden W180×D60×H60(cm)


Pursuit of fine and vivid
landscape photographs.

The World of Nature Aquarium Captured by
Special Shooting Method.

The picture of this huge aquarium (W4×D1.5×H1.5m) was taken in a special way which is different from other aquarium photographs. You might not notice it but there is a significant difference in brightness between above the water and underwater sections and therefore it is impossible to use the same exposure setting to capture these two different portions of the photo. To solve this problem, the multiple-exposure method was developed. With this method, the above and under water sections are captured by separate photographs (see the column below). Photographing using this technique is a one-shot deal. Using a multiple number of large-format cameras, a picture of above-water section is first taken from the furthest position from the tank, and then followed by the shooting of underwater section from the point near the tank. This means that this photographing method requires twice as much effort as ordinary photographs.

It is spectacular to see so many large-format cameras at a place. To avoid the cameras from being seen in the picture, the shooting session proceeds just like working a puzzle.

A large-format film is loaded into a holder designed solely for this type of film. The film is vacuumed to maintain its flatness. This is an effort to avoid even a slight out-of-focus image. Once the photographing of above (or outside)-the-water portion has been completed, the picture of the underwater portion is taken. The surroundings of the tank and windows are covered in black and only the underwater portion is illuminated in the dark.


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’s lifework is to take pictures and do research on the world’s three major tropical rainforest and pristine forests in Japan. Among many destinations, he has numerous times visited Rio Negro and other parts of the Amazon, a land of longing for aquarists, and introduced the tropical fishes and aquatic plants living in the Amazon. During the photo expedition in 1999, Amano successfully took the underwater pictures of Cardinal tetra and angelfish and unveiled their life and habitat environments. These species were popular but no one knew how they survive in their habitats at that time. Amano says, “Space development is going on, but we still don’t know anything about the jungles on the earth.” Amano’s concept was to view diverse jungle ecosystem by taking its pictures from the sky (aerial photography), on the land (landscape photographs) and in the water (underwater photography). These photo expeditions also very often gave inspirations to the development of ADA products and prove that the theory and methods of Nature Aquarium conformed to the order of nature. Amano says that the experiences in nature unknowingly refine his sensibility and it is naturally reflected in the layout expression. It is a sad fact that dense and lush tropical rainforest jungles and beautiful white beaches, which Amano has captured enthusiastically, are rapidly lost recently. Amano, who has been watching the nature of Japan and all over the world, keeps an eye on Mother Nature while working on environmental issues.

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.

Communicating Nature Aquarium was one of the important jobs for Amano. He traveled around the world and energetically gave lectures on attractiveness and know-how of Nature Aquarium to pursue his vision of making Nature Aquarium a common global culture. The interest in Nature Aquarium spread across the world through publications and the International Aquatic Plants Layout Contest, ADA received many requests for “Nature Aquarium seminar by Takashi Amano” from many countries. In the seminar, the concept and philosophy of Nature Aquarium was usually introduced by slide presentations. These slides are prepared to explain simply and clearly on how to feel the natural landscapes of Amazon, Borneo and West Africa as well as Japan and lead them to the inspiration for layout creation. In these seminars, too, Amano talked about the importance of “learn from nature”. The word “learn from nature” is, so to speak, an essence of Nature Aquarium philosophy and Amano thought it was of the utmost importance to convey the philosophy first. The highlight of the seminar was a workshop with Amano’s demonstration of layout creation using an actual aquarium tank. At that time, most of the aquarists outside Japan had only seen Nature Aquarium layouts in Amano's publications and photos. The workshop was a good opportunity for aquarists to learn real Nature Aquarium with their own eyes.

Nowadays, ADA EU offers workshops by leading aquascapers. Stay tune on our news and social media about coming ones.

At a workshop in Interzoo

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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