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Tennoji Koen

Courtney's afternoon in Tennoji

Andrew picked up an overtime shift at Tenno-ji Station Plaza school, so I decided to accompany him on his trip down there and wander around. We went for a cup of coffee at Doutor, and walked down a very sketchy alleyway that looked like Yakuza could jump out at any minute, and then we were back on the street. There appeared to be a park-type place right across the way from the station, so I gave Andrew a good-day kiss and I was off.

I walked up to the gate, and finally figured out that I had to buy my admission ticket at one of the automated vending machines. I handed my ticket to the man at the gate, and he handed me another ticket. Another girl came rushing out of the ticket booth and handed me a pamphlet in English. Apparently I look like I need English translations of things.

The first part of the botanical garden was, to say the least, cruddy. I was hoping I hadn't paid good money (150, but still) to see rebar planters shaped like cartoon animals with a few pots. Albeit the fountains were nice-ish, I was hoping for more.

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I walked over an overstreet walkway and saw the museum. I walked behind the museum to the right and encountered a beautiful garden. It surrounded a huge pond with giant koi. I walked around the pond on a winding pathway and past a waterfall (faux, but the sound was convincing enough for me). I hopped on some stones to cross a stream, and watched a crane stalking prey for about 20 minutes. However, as I was watching the crane, I noticed a turtle pulling itself out of the water and onto a rock to absorb some heat from the sun. I said to myself, "Self, you like turtles, don't you? You should try to get a good picture of a turtle while you're here." So I took my advice and tried to get a closer look. I had seen a building across the pond when I first arrived, so I decided to see if I could make my way over to it. Perhaps this would provide me the vantage point I was seeking.

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I walked further along the path and passed a group of people in a clearing next to the building doing watercolour paintings of the garden. Someday I'll be good enough to paint a good rendition, but I definitely need more practice to get to their level. I walked up to the doorway of the building. I noticed other non-official looking people were inside, so I decided I was just non-official looking enough to join them. I parked myself on a bench and looked out to the turtle I had seen earlier. It was still too far away. Thinking my plan had been foiled, I hung my head down to look into the water below...

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What did I see? Turtles. More pond turtles than I had ever seen in my entire life. They were all swimming around under the windows, probably waiting for dropping crumbs from the people inside. They were all the same type (I'm not sure of the genus-species at this point, but I'll look it up), some larger than others. At first I thought some may have been yearlings or something of the like, but then I clued in: dimorphism. The females are larger than the males. And it being springtime and all, things started happening, albeit at a turtle's pace. I have to say it takes a special kind of scientist to sit around waiting to observe turtle mating behaviour. I'm not sure I would have it in me, but I certainly made a go of it. The male tends to keep pretty close to the female, and whenever she comes up for air, he comes around in front of her and waves his claws in her face. I'm not sure what this accomplishes, but it certainly is funny/annoying to watch. Koi were also circling, and every time one would swim past, the resultant currents would fling the turtles in different directions. It was entertaining.

After about an hour of watching the turtles and taking pictures, I decided it might be time to move on. I left the building, and followed a white cat for a little while, and eventually made my way into another section of the garden. It wasn't quite as full of turtles, and it was nearing closing time, so I walked back in the direction I'd come and left the garden. I noticed that there was a greenouse to the left, so I went in to price the plants (since we bought our jungle in Kobe, I go into a lot of plant stores just to see how good of a deal we got). As I was browsing, a small plant caught my eye. It resembled the one that we had purchased a month earlier. Upon closer inspection, I saw that there was a junebug-sized green iridescent beetle on the leaves. It was posing just for me! I'm sure I looked quite suspicious, taking a picture of this little plant. After that, I went off on a mission to find some teacups for my new three cup-a-day habit.

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I was quite contented that my few hours of solo sightseeing had gone so well, and that I could spend a whole lot of time doing some animal behaviour field observation. It wasn't marine, but I'll take what I can get.

Posted by agc_cwm 07:52 Archived in Japan

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