In Japan...

"Hey, is that a ninja up there?"
(Japan, Aug 20 - Sep 19, 2011)

November 10, 2010

Days 3-4: The Weekend

On Saturday it was a glorious sunny day, high of maybe 24 C, so thought I'd use the opportunity to take a walk around. The zoo is actually not too far from where I am staying, and it also contains some botanical gardens; a perfect day for such ventures. The zoo/gardens ticket was less than £5 - bargain! When I went inside I saw why. It was pretty horrible, the enclosures most of the animals were being kept in were tiny and often made of rusting metal. In a cages half the size of my current accomodation (see the first post) were large cats such as the jaguar. I started taking pictures of how shocking it actually was rather than the excitement of exotic animals. I guess it should be expected given the age of the place, as many zoos in the west that were built in the 50s and 60s were just as bad if not worse.

Oddly enough, one of the smaller creatures in the entire zoo and definitely the laziest got one of the largest and nicest enclosures of all: the koala bears. Inside a climate controlled room behind a huge wall of plexiglass sat about 10 koalas, each with about 3 trees of their own and the same space as one of the big cats. A koala, who sleeps 22 hours a day and barely moves. Why? Because they're one of the main attractions. Here is a picture of the lone hyenia for comparison (click to enlarge).

Putting my disgust to one side, I headed to the botanical gardens. It is a real shame that I only had an hour left before closing to walk through it, as it was pretty extensive with many places to explore, significantly less people and some great views. I would be tempted to come back again and just visit the gardens for some tranquility! Here are some arty farty pictures I took from the flower garden.

On Sunday, Simon and Louisa took me to explore the main areas of the city, Sakae and Nagoya City station. They are two large shopping and entertainment districts. First we visited Nagoya castle and its gardens. Not much of a castle (rebuilt from cement after WWII), but the settings were very nice and it had some sweet stone walls that entrenched a very large moat (moats rule). No longer full of water, it plays host to some lovely deer. There was also a bonzai tree exhibition; not to be missed. On the grounds outside the castle walls must have been some school festival, as there was lots of food stands and high school bands playing pop punk, which was enjoyed tremendously by the locals. I wish I had brought my camera.
Differences between Japan and the West: No. 3)
Everyone, and I mean everyone, has some sort of dongle accessory on their mobile phone. I find this hilarious.

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