“Fuzzy Dominion”: Day Three (Part Two) of Kat’s (not quite) Epic Christmas/New Years 2008 (and technically 2009) Trip (of wonderfulness)

Warning: even more image heavy than usual.

So after my Starbucks recharge (Chai Tea deliciousness… god, I wish more people liked Chai Tea in Japan… I wish they sold it in stores), I made my way by tram to Suizenji Park.  Apparently it was made around 400 years ago by some extremely rich Samurai called Hosokawa Tadatoshi.  He wanted to make a copy of the 53 post stops of the Tokaido–the incredibly important road between Kyoto and Edo (now Tokyo)–hence the “mountain” below that’s supposed to resemble Mt. Fuji.  I realized after I got there and bought some postcards that the best time to go to Suizenji in winter is in the morning because the main pond, which is warm year round, steams in the cool morning air.

Nonetheless, yet another impressive Japanese sight.  These folks really know their interior decorating/landscaping/architecture.  Srsly.

I did the best I could at hiding the protrusions of modern architecture in the background...

I did the best I could at hiding the protrusions of modern architecture in the background...

 

Koi are a necessary addition to any Japanese garden.

Koi are a necessary addition to any Japanese garden.

It’s not the largest park in existence, but it was rather nice to walk around.  Some obaa-chans were fixing up the landscaping, and with their work the fragrance of nice clean dirt and plants rose in the cold afternoon air.  Several groups of families were busily standing at the edge of the pond feeding the animals there.  I liked seeing all the ducks and koi go absolutely insane each time the eager kids tossed in far too much bread.  The animals’ll get too fat to fly and/or swim, I swear.  But tiny Japanese children doing anything is pretty much enjoyable and adorable. 

Apparently in the spring/summer everything turns uber-green (very similar to Aso… which you will see in the future), like flourescent green, the green of Iki, except where Iki is all wild and/or barely tamed, Suizenji is all… not.  Really, I’ve already decided I’m going to go back to Kumamoto when it’s spring or early summer.  Now I just have to decide whether to do it next year or the year after…

A statue of the feller who initially made the park.

A statue of the feller who initially made the park.

If you couldn’t tell by the tori in the left hand side of the first photo, there’s also a rather sizeable (and pretty-ful) shrine in the center of the park.  Being as this was near New Years (probably the most important holiday in Japan, followed closely by O-Bon in August) it was all niced and spruced up.

At some point I should figure out 1) what the kanji means, and 2) what the red tori signify.

At some point I should figure out 1) what the kanji means, and 2) what the red tori signify.

People buy these New Years Wishes/Blessings and then tie them.  I think they are set on fire so the wishes can make their way to heaven or somesuch...

People buy these New Years Wishes/Blessings and then tie them. I think they are set on fire so the wishes can make their way to heaven or somesuch...

In case you missed the Mount Fuji protrusion in the earlier picture.

In case you missed the Mount Fuji protrusion in the earlier picture.

So I finished with Suizenji around three pm and, given as I had tons of extra time to kill, I took the tram farther away from the city.  I’d spied a picture of an elephant on an earlier tourist map and thought, Hey, I like fluffy things and animals.  They’re fun, so I decided it would be nice to go to the zoo.  And, well, as zoos in the center of cities go, I guess it was okay.  However, the size of the cages and the fact that even the outdoor ones were not so very… nature-like was very surprising.  I thought I’d seen bad at the Beijing zoo and–well, no, this didn’t come close to that–but it still made me a bit sad.  I would much rather see three or four exotic animals in one acre each made to closely resemble their natural habitat than one-hundred in tiny, barren cages just so I can see them.

Anyway…

It was still nice to walk around.  I listened to my iPod the whole time, and still found that it is quite nice to have my own theme music as I move around. 

In any case, the following is picture heavy (well, almost exclusively pictures) and is up pretty much for my own vanity in my picture-taking capabilities. 

And because fuzzy (and even the not-so-fuzzy ones) are cute.

I expected him (her?) to start dancing and speaking in a fake Latino accent just because I love Happy Feet that much.

I expected him (her?) to start dancing and speaking in a fake Latino accent just because I love Happy Feet that much.

I immediately thought of Emperor's New Groove (fantastic movie, in case you were wondering) and I smiled and did a little jig.  And then immediately felt guilty.  I am a terrible person.

I immediately thought of Emperor's New Groove (fantastic movie, in case you were wondering) and I smiled and did a little jig. And then immediately felt guilty. I am a terrible person.

Look Mr. Frodo!  An elephante!

And this one turned into that scene from Lord of the Rings: Look Mr. Frodo! An elephante!

Looksies, they are forming a heart!

Looksies, they are forming a heart!

This parrot was very upset when I started taking its picture.  I guess parrots are not so photogenic?

This parrot was very upset when I started taking its picture. I guess parrots are not so photogenic?

So, when I was watching the Rhino, he started to dance!  It was hilarious and adorable, and perhaps a mating thing for the rhino in the next cage?  Or maybe just the may rhinos walk.  Anyway, I was really happy about it.  And then immediately felt guilty.  I am a terrible person.

So, when I was watching the Rhino, he started to dance! It was hilarious and adorable, and perhaps a mating thing for the rhino in the next cage? Or maybe just the may rhinos walk. Anyway, I was really happy about it. And then immediately felt guilty. I am a terrible person.

And when I saw THIS little feller, immediately a Haruki Murakami story came to mind.  In it, two people want to see a baby kangaroo and one mentions that their natural enemies are men who Kill Them With Boomerangs.  This led me to ask Tom (the Australian) several times whether he had ever killed a kangaroo with a boomerang.  He took it with a great deal of alacrity.  Whatever alacrity means.

And when I saw THIS little feller, immediately a Haruki Murakami story came to mind. In it, two people want to see a baby kangaroo and one mentions that their natural enemies are men who Kill Them With Boomerangs. This led me to ask Tom (the Australian) several times whether he had ever killed a kangaroo with a boomerang. He took it with a great deal of alacrity. Whatever alacrity means.

Just checked the definition of “alacrity”:

promptness in response : cheerful readiness <accepted the invitation with alacrity>

Which means though not quite correct for the situation, I didn’t do too badly for a word I’d only ever read in romance novels and never deigned to look up.

In any case, I must update the list (a lot):

6. Walk through Kumamoto-jo, and if I’m lucky, find a way to see it from above

7.  Go to the Soseki museum!!! (Kumamoto)

Check! 

And life keeps on a’rollin. 

As a status update on my life now, in case you were wondering, I’ve returned to work but have yet to do anything there.  I succeeded in reading nearly 400 pages of a new book today.  Tomorrow the third term actually begins, but I don’t think I’ll have any classes until Tuesday (next Monday is a holiday).  I might have to do something at Hatsuyama.  We’ll find out.

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