Higashiyama Zoo: More Pictures, Less Words

March 22, 2010

Oh, the joys of mysterious holidays. Monday was a day off from work due to a national holiday, observed for some sort of Equinox that happened over the weekend. This meant I got a break from doing my presentation on landmines (no, really, I’ve been teaching first year students about the horrors of landmines in Cambodia for the past week. It’s not very uplifting material.) and had the chance to explore somewhere new in the area. With a couple of friends (including my college friend/Tokyo connect Eri), I ended up at the Higashiyama Zoo in Nagoya for the day. The Internet claims it’s the third-best zoo in Japan…but the Higashiyama Zoo was a red panda exhibit away from being the best zoo-related experience of my life. Come, let’s stare at pictures of animals:

OK, not a real animal

OK, not a real animal

Did not ride

Did not ride

Elephant behind bars

Elephant behind bars

Regal-ass Penguins

Regal-ass Penguins

Monkey had a rough day

Monkey had a rough day

Monkeys groomin'

Monkeys groomin'

Baby hippo

Baby hippo

The highlight of the zoo was definitely the polar bears. Whereas every polar bear exhibit in America I’ve seen ends with disappointment at the sight of sleeping bears, the duo in Nagoya were super active. There was a bigger one which loved flopping into the water and swimming about, and a smaller guy apparently terrified of H20 who chose to perilously creep across the exhibit’s edge instead of get wet. We came shortly before there lunch…a zoo employee hopped over the railing meant to keep us out and started tossing pieces of white bread and apples into the bears’ home. The big one had no problem reaching the food…but the little one refused to swim, even for the prison-approved meal of bread floating in water. That polar bear leaned over the edges and pawed the bread towards him.

Sleepin' seals

Sleepin' seals

Last Wilco album...not very good

Last Wilco album...not very good

I wasn't the only one taking photos of the Cherry Blossoms

I wasn't the only one taking photos of the Cherry Blossoms

Lion Around Har Har

Lion Around Har Har

So cute!

So cute!

Bear-shaped food!

Bear-shaped food!

Bear Holding Bear (get it?)

Bear Holding Bear (get it?)

Kangaroo with baby!

Kangaroo with baby!

Camera died after this monkey pic

Camera died after this monkey pic

(Japanese Fun Fact #51: I visited my first Japanese movie theater this weekend [to see The Hurt Locker for a second time, holds up]. For the most part the experience isn’t crazy different from what you’d get in America. But here are a few slight differences condensed into bullet-point form:

– When you purchase tickets, you also pick what seats you want to sit in. Nobody in Japan wants to see The Hurt Locker, if the number of open seats meant anything.
– The concession stand surprisingly sells typical fare, but two notes. One, the prices for food are way cheaper than in America – general tickets cost more but popcorn can be bought at a reasonable price. Speaking of popcorn – it isn’t like the plain stuff popped up in the States. They sell crunchy caramel corn. And it’s divine, the only downside being it’s a lot louder to eat. This especially becomes a problem during a tense film like The Hurt Locker – nothing better than biting into an especially crunchy handful when a car bomb might go off at any second.
– Previews in Japan – much faster, much more straightforward. They made Shutter Island not look like a total phoned-in piece of crap!
– The best part…the little preview-thing telling you the rules of the theater. Tough to sum up but…it involved bears, violence, people with video cameras for heads, crying and high-pitched narrators. Bizarre, but better than anything I ever saw at Cinemark.

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