A Travellerspoint blog

May 2006

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.

Tennoji - Gnome.jpg

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.

Tennoji - Pond.jpg Tennoji - Pond 2.jpg Tennoji - Pond 3.jpg Tennoji - fish.jpg

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...

Tennoji - Building.jpgTennoji - Turtles.jpg Tennoji - Turtles 2.jpg

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.

Tennoji - Path.jpg Tennoji - Bug.jpg

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 Comments (0)

Trip to Rokko

No matter where we go, someone is always watching us

Today we decided to get out of the concrete jungle that we live in and make our way out to some nature. Some of our friends told us about a great place called Rokko (pronunced Rock-O), which isn't too far from our apartment.

Rokko is a town built on a mountain (like Dalhousie) and very close to the water as well. We also figure that it is a really wealthy area. We figured this out when we saw the size of the houses and that people actually have lawns. That and when we walked around the corner and saw two western BMW convertibles sitting there. That was also a good hint. We also figured out how everyone parks their cars at home. It is a pretty brilliant system. They have little elevators like this:

Rokko Cars.jpg

We wandered around Rokko for a while, but we could never seem to get out of the residential areas and find true nature (I'm not sure if you can do that in Japan). But, we did find this really cool temple. You had to walk up a large ramp, however once you got up there it was extremely quite. So we poked around hoping we weren't offending anyone. Here are a couple pictures from the temple:
Rokko Temple.jpg

We also found our first "dragon" today. This statue was in the temple, it was guarding the tap that the only other lady filled up about 10 2L water bottles at.

Rokko Dragon.JPG

In the woods there were two statues, one of a horse and one of a little creepy buddha-type guy. We don't know what they are but this picture turned out pretty good.

Rokko Horse.jpg

We were wandering out Rokko and stopped on this bridge to look at the river.

rokko Court.jpg

We were there for a while just taking in the scenery when we looked over at a house and saw a little black head of hair and two eyes peering out, then curtain close quickly. So we went back to the river and then looked back over at the house and the same kid was staring at us again. So we looked at him and he hid again. This happened probably 3 or 4 times. The thing is in Japan because we are foreigners we get stared at by people all the time. That was the biggest thing all the books said to get used to. The worst are the kids, but both of us understand they are just being kids and think nothing of it. One day on the train there was a little girl (maybe four) riding with her Dad and all she did was stare at us the whole time. But, what can you say. We always make some sort of joke, like this kid from Rokko screaming, "Mom come here! There are TWO of them!" and then we move on.

At one point during our wander through Rokko Andrew found this little door next to a gate that was open, so he decided to go through it.

Rokko Small doorJPG.jpg

This was all fine and good until something started beeping. We were afraid that we wouldn't be able to explain what we were doing, so we just took off and found the temple.

After this we got some ice cream and made our way back to the train. We didn't really get out into the mountains or the woods but it was a good way to spend an afternoon.

Posted by agc_cwm 06:54 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

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