7th August 2019: Dragons & kappa {Japan, summer 2019}

It is by now a tradition to go Ueno [上野] and the National Museum of Nature and Science, Kokuritsu Kagaku Hakubutsukan [国立科学博物館] to see the summer exhibition this time it was about kyouryuu [恐竜博], “fear dragons” aka dinosaurs – this year the exhibition was called 恐竜博 2019 THE DINOSAUR EXPO 2019. So it was a must-go for me (^o^)/

And then of course I wandered a little around the evolutionary wards of the museum, because of course I did.

I came out and I turned right instead of left, so I walked right into Kaisan-do (Ryo-daishi) [開山堂 (両大師)] (which on google maps appears as Rinnoji. Note to self: explore the area beyond next time over.

Then I crossed above all the railways leading in and out Ueno station.

I continued on until I got to Sogenji [曹源寺] also known as the temple of the kappa, Kappa-dera [かっぱ寺]. There is a legend related to a raincoat maker who was helped by a kappa when he wanted to build a drainage system in the area. There are a lot of kappa in the temple.

They also populate the nearby area, Kappabashihon [かっぱ橋本].

After that, I backtracked back to Ueno and from there I took a train to Ikebukuro [池袋] to do some window shopping. Then I looked at Tokyo Tower [東京タワー] from Roppongi [六本木] before D****e and I had dinner and called it a day.

Walked distance: 13384 steps / 9.57 km

13th July 2017: Shinkai (Deep Ocean) {Japan, summer 2017}

I headed off to Ueno Kōen [野公園]. The first thing I did was exchanging my JR Pass. Then I hit the Natural History Museum Kokuritsu Kagaku Hakubutsukan [国立科学博物館] because I had seen on Tuesday that they were running a temporary exhibition on Deep Ocean. Since last year’s Hunters of the Sea was good, I had decided to check it out.

The exhibition, called Shinkai [深海] ran several parts. The first of them (bioluminescence and Hadal zone) had a bunch of interesting specimens both kept in formol, along with there being big screen showing the creatures in their natural habitat. Of course, Japan, being Japan, was much more fascinated by the screens rather than the actual fish. Some of the most interesting things that they had exhibited included: a giant Antarctic octopus ( Megaleledone setebos), a Pacific footballfish (Himantolophus sagamius, those that have a little light on an antenna on their head), a huge chimera and a lepidion (Lepidion schmidti). However the central pieces of the exhibition were the Pacific sleeper shark (Somniosus pacificus) and the Atlantic giant squid (Architeuthis dux).

Another part focused on geology and ocean floor exploiting, alongside some earthquake research, especially on the Great Tohoku Earthquake. The most interesting part here were the chimneys and the Manganese nodules.

There was a bit on augmented microbiology but that is not that key XD

After I left the exhibition I headed off to Yushima Tenmangu [湯島天満宮], which is associated with plum trees, but none of them were blooming at the time. It also enshrines the Kami of Learning, so I hope it helps with my Japanese.

Afterwards, I took the Ginza line to Shibuya [渋谷] to meet up with B**** for some Starbucks and sushi. Sushi is always good!

12th July 2016: 海のハーンター! (Hunters of the Sea) {Japan, summer 2016} {Japan, summer 2016}

First thing in the morning… I slept in because I was beat, but second, I went to pick up my JRPass, really hoping to compensate it since this time it is for 14 days. The JR Pass allows for unlimited travel in most JRLines. I wanted to get it and activate it, but I realised that I felt better activating it the following day to have some more margin after my long trip (more on that another day).

The JRPass lady complimented my Japanese and asked me where I studied Japanese. I think this was the first time someone made small talk with me aside from friends (^ν^). It felt good to be able to do that, especially as I was not feeling too encouraged at school.

Anyway. I was in Ueno [上野] and the Kokuritsu Kagaku Hakubutsukan [国立科学博物館], Tokyo’s National Museum of Nature and Science, was running the temporal exhibition called ‘Umi no Hunters’ [海のハーンター] (Hunters of the Sea) Would you have doubted me heading there head first? No? Thought so (^_^)☆

So there I went <・ )))><<, and I had a lot of fun. The first part was a small introductory video and a very cool evolution chart of different predatory species in the ocean. The second focuses on ‘predators of the past’, making mentions of the Dunkleosteous (and I was so happy that they had put the huge Dunkan head they’ve got before a light background for good pictures. Then they had a few fossils, including a very curious double-predation one (both fish killed each other in the process and were fossilised that way). I could already peer above me one of the most exciting things of the exhibition, the model of the Megalodon. And boy, it was great. The only problem was that it was hanging from the ceiling with very bad angle to be caught in pictures. I tried. Repeatedly.

Then they had the whole set of teeth, which of course would not belong to the same shark, but one can dream (^◇^;) And yeah, there were other birds and stuff, but Megalodon! And teeth!

Then the exhibition moved onto present day animals. I get the feeling that they just brought together every taxidermy they had lying around that could be related to the sea. Some were much better done than others, truth be told. They divided the stands in the different areas – deep sea, open sea, shallow area.

One of the things that surprised me the most was the size of the sea elephant. I have to own up that for a few second I did not know if it was real or just something that someone had put there to troll visitors and I had this urge to pat it to check whether that was real hair, but of course I could not do that. The young women minding the exhibition would have gotten a heart attack or twenty. So I was nice and respectful – and really if I have to get deported from Japan, I think it would not be for patting a giant seal. Nor for stealing one of the Megalodon teeth they had at the exhibition and that I really, really wanted.

The coolest thing, of course, because I am not going to hide that I am horribly biased were the sharks. I was so taken with them that at first I did not realise what was closing the the tour.

I was going to need a bigger camera.

They had a preserved Great White Shark (ホホシロサメ)which you could not see in its great splendour because someone had not thought too well about the tank and the preserving liquid but… Did I mention Great White Shark?? Apparently it was washed ashore dead in 2014 and had taken this long to get it preserved. There was a video explaining about the process (as a matter of fact, there were several videos throughout the exhibition, sorry I got shark-ried away.

After this the plan was to get ramen in Ueno station, but there was a huge line and I did not think I had the time to brave it. However I still had time so I decided to wander around and head off to Ikebukuro [池袋] where, guess what? Got the wrong exit. As always. But made it back to school with plenty of time.

20th August 2015: Still life, moving life {Japan, summer 2015}

As predicted, the 20th dawned rainy and not too inviting, so I headed off to Ueno Park to visit one of the many museums there. I heard that the collection of the Kokuritsu Kagaku Hakubutsukan [国立科学博物館], Tokyo’s National Museum of Nature and Science had been renewed and I wanted to have a look. In the end, not much had changed, but I still had a fairly good time, because I am a geek like that. There were about three million primary school classes there, though, and a few high school ones, which was a bit annoying – and loud – but nothing too bad.

Some of the wards mix science with mythology and culture, for example the earthquake science area has an ukiyo-e of the god Suzano keeping Namazu, the giant catfish which causes earthquakes, still. As much as the bio area is cool, I think my favourite part of this museum is the fossils collection – which is scattered in different wards in what I assume has some logic but I am yet to find it. I am particularly taken by the Dunkleosteous glass panel, and of course (insert everyone who knows me going ‘duh’ here) the Megalodon teeth.

But kinda a lot of things are cool. Like dinosaur fossils. Which make you giggle when you’ve recently watched Jurassic World. There is a plesiosaur (which, by the way, is not a dinosaur). What is a dinosaur is, of course, the T-rex (#TeamTRex) – completely irrelevant information: it is a cast of Scotty, the largest T-Rex ever found.

After finishing in Ueno and getting into the wrong station – of course, that must happen at least once when I am in Japan, I headed off to Tokyo Skytree [東京スカイツリー] in Sumida [墨田] just because I could.

I did not want to climb it up, but there was something there that had been on my to-see list, Sumida Suizokukan [すみだ水族館], Sumida Aquarium. Apparently there is a tacit agreement among Japanese aquariums so each one has a super cool thing that only they’ve got. So they are like pokemon, you gotta see them all if you wanna catch all the cool things. In this case I was aiming for the giant isopods. But of course, I never say no to sharks, even with annoying kids screwing up the pictures.

And then there was sushi, and that was goooood.

… Maybe I should have titled this post “fish in every form”?

21st June 2013: Ueno and Ebisu {Japan, summer 2013}

As last year, 2013 visiting started on Ueno Kōen [上野公園], as it is an easy-enough place to reach and has a few museums that offer indoors entertainment. It was raining cats and dogs, which should have made me cranky. Nevertheless I was paroling around with this stupid grin on my face as the general tourists bitched about weather XD

You might remember Hanazono Inari Jinja [花園稲荷神社] from last year:

Unfortunately the Sakurazukamori was nowhere to be found again – although I have to admit that the atmosphere changes quite a bit in the rain. Thus, I headed into the Kokuritsu Kagaku Hakubutsukan [国立科学博物館], Tokyo’s National Museum of Nature and Science, after being thoroughly confused by the Japanese arrow system once again.

The museum has two buildings, and an impressive collection of preserved animals, along with a very cool evolutionary tree, a collection of dinosaur fossils, an exhibition on human evolution and some repeated casts that they hope really hard nobody notices.

The animal life exhibition gave me a glimpse of how biased I can actually be, as I rather felt like “monkey, cat, human… FISHY =D”. Most of my pictures are sea-life related XD

Like ever other Science Museum there was Foucault pendulum hidden in a corner:

And the last exhibition was about methods of science, units, and had an amazing periodic table with samples. Whomever designed the exhibition deserves a lot of kudos.

Later I headed to Ebisu [恵比寿] where D****e and I were meeting with some of her Japanese friends for drink and food. All in good fun. It was raining when I checked out Ebisu Garden Place [恵比寿ガーデンプレイスタワー], so I could sympathise with MatsuJun’s mysery XD”