Rare ‘marimo’ algae shown outside Japan for the 1st time

[Japan, Taiwan] Rare ball-shaped “marimo” freshwater algae are on display here, the first time such specimens from Japan have been shown overseas, as part of a commemorative exhibition.

Marimo, which were discovered in Hokkaido’s Lake Akanko in 1897, are designated by the government as a special natural monument. They were flown to Taipei and went on display at the National Taiwan Museum here Dec. 2.

It is the first time for marimo from Japan to be exhibited overseas, according to the Kushiro city government. The lake is located in Kushiro, eastern Hokkaido.

The exhibition was organized to mark the 120th anniversary of the algae’s discovery by Takiya Kawakami (1871-1915), who was studying at what is now Hokkaido University.

Kawakami later became a botanist and served as the first director of the museum after moving to Taiwan, which was then under Japanese colonial rule.

Ten marimo used for the event in Taipei were cultivated from cells extracted from algae in Akanko. They measure between 4 and 7 centimeters in diameter. Relatively smaller ones were selected for the exhibition because they tend to retain their original ball shapes better than larger ones, according to Kushiro officials.

The temperature of a tank is kept at 16 degrees or so to keep the marimo healthy.

The event will run through Feb. 25.


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