My host family brought me to the Shinagawa Aquarium near the southern part of Tokyo. They originally had planned to bring me to the neighbourhood flea market/garage sale, but it was raining so it was cancelled. I didn't really mind; I love aquariums and sea creatures so I eagerly agreed to their suggestion.
|Translation: This way to immigration. Please state your porpoise here.|
There were many, many families out for a day at the aquarium. It seems that most entertainment places are filled with families with young children every weekend, probably because that's the only time parents have time to spend with their kids.
|"I found a Crimson Ticket! I'm going to Free Willy Wonka's Ocean Aquarium!"|
After wading through hordes of elementary school children, I came across the first exhibit, which depicted the wildlife you could find around the Shinagawa River in Tokyo:
|"Oh, nothing much. Just outran a philosophical arrow. Gonna try racing hares next."|
Yuka-san quickly pointed out that there would be a sea-lion show coming up soon, so we went to the arena where they held the gladiatorial fight to the death- no, sorry, where the seals would perform stunts and stuff.
|Pffft. I could do that.|
I was really impressed by how well trained the sea-lions were, because I kept wondering how they were trained. I mean, you can't tell them what to do; even the process of Pavlovian conditioning requires the animal to do something first before you can reward it with a treat, so how do they do it? I also started thinking that while the tricks the animals did delighted the audience a lot, they were also very pareidolic - the sea-lion is just moving its flipper back and forth but we attach a meaning to that action and see that as it waving to us. Things to ponder about.
They let the dolphins loose into the pool after the show, and there were so excited to have a big space to play around in that they immediately started doing warm-ups:
|Dolphin couple. Sigh.|
|Horseshoe crab: "Honey, I think we're lost. I'm sure I've seen that sardine go past us before."|
There was a tank with an octopus and transparent piping, obviously meant to show off the octopus's flexibility. But the guy was just lounging around while I was looking at him.
|"Hey, I had a James Bond movie named after me. I think I deserve a little R&R."|
There was this huge underwater tunnel section, like what I remember from Sentosa's Underwater World and the new S.E.A. Aquarium. They housed huge fish and giant sea turtles, and a giant stingray which made all the little kids squeal as it passed overhead.
|"I just want you to know we're not all Crocodile Hunter killers."|
|"Sea turtles, mate."|
|Of course, you'd be travelling sideways.|
|"The completely butchered my character in The Little Mermaid."|
|I'm never washing this hand ever again.|
For whatever reason evolution decided to try upside-down jellyfish, I hope it's not just to make them the laughingstocks of the deep ocean.
|"Aw crap, I dropped my open umbrella and now I can't find it."|
Jellyfish are the most enchanting sea creatures.
|Bloop bloop bloop.|
|For you non-geeks who don't get the reference.|
I think salamanders are the weirdest-looking amphibians. I have no idea how they got mythologically associated with fire, because they're the slimiest things I've ever seen.
|Man, those are some racist salamanders.|
|If they played soccer, there'd be Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea!|
I know some fish are transparent because it makes it harder for deeper-water predators to spot them when they're looking at their prey from below.
|The uncut diamonds in this tank make this the most expensive exhibit in the whole place.|
|Just trick it out a bit and you'd have a working spacesuit.|
Also, because they're orange:
|"With fronds like these, who needs anemones?"|
|This face needs to be made into a meme.|
We also managed to catch the dolphin show after lunch, with the dolphins doing typical dolphin tricks like somersaults, jumping through hoops, and making kids squeal after splashing them with water.
|DOLPHIN ROCKET ENGINE THRUSTERS GO|
|"Look inside yourself, Simba."|
At dinner, the family was watching a Japanese variety show, and the first bit showed them carving a giant bowl out of Styrofoam. I thought that was pretty cool; I was wondering what they were going to use it for. It turns out, white-water rafting.
|Because nothing says "Japanese Variety Show" than two men white-water rafting in a giant disembodied Styrofoam Jack-Sparrow Lego head.|