10 Days in Japan (Part 2) – Handshake with a Sea-lion and Other Experiences

I am back to tell some more stories of my visit to Japan. I stayed in Japan only for 10 days, but explored a lot of places in and around Tokyo with my husband. The amazing experiences of the first four days are here. Now, let me tell the stories from the 5th day onwards…

Day 5

It was April 29, 2014. We had a plan to visit the Ueno Zoo in Tokyo, which is the oldest zoo in Japan. As usual, we took a train and reached there. The zoo was quite huge and we started from one corner. The first animal that we came across was a giant panda. Until then, I saw this animal only on TV and in books. The pandas in the zoo were just like the teddy bears that I have in my home, so cute that I wanted to hug them. A lot of people gathered in front of the cage, but the pandas were concentrating only on eating bamboo-stems.

A cute panda in Ueno Zoo

A cute panda in Ueno Zoo

We were roaming around and saw elephants, lions, tigers, gorilla and some other interesting animals. The zoo also has a large collection of birds including owls, toucans, kingfishers etc. All the birds were in cages, as expected; but in one corner of the zoo there was a sulphur-crested cockatoo which was not caged. But surprisingly, it was not flying away !

Cockatoo

Cockatoo

Then we came across some more animals – in a pond there were some sea-lions who were having their lunch at that time and soon after finishing off their lunch they started to fall asleep on the small stone islands made in the middle of the pond; in an artificial small hill there was a polar bear who seemed to be not-too-happy with Tokyo’s weather in April. We walked more and found tapirs, Japanese macaques and some other animals, most of them were completely unknown to us.

Sea-lion

Sea-lion

Polar-bear

Polar-bear

Tapir

Tapir

Japanese Macaques

Japanese Macaques

Inside the zoo we saw the famous Ueno Zoo Monorail which is an example of suspension railway. This rail service aims to connect the eastern and western parts of the zoo. For me, it was an amazing experience to see a small train proceeding slowly by hanging from the rail track above it !

Ueno Zoo Monorail

Ueno Zoo Monorail

However, we did not board the monorail as there was a long queue; we continued walking and came across the penguins, the red pandas, the colorful flamingos, turtles, snakes, crocodiles, zebras, kangaroos, some more birds of different varieties and a lot more!

Penguin

Penguin

Flamingo

Flamingo

After exploring the huge area of the zoo, we had to give some rest to our legs, so we spent some time sitting on a bench amidst the greenery. But soon after we headed towards Nezu shrine, which is one of Japan’s oldest shrines.

Nezu Shrine

Nezu Shrine

Just beside the main building of the shrine there is a torii-pathway; a lot of small sized toriis lined up to make a tunnel-like structure. Torii is traditional Japanese gate, which is commonly found at the entrance of shrines. Following the torii-pathway we reached the top of a small hillock where we found another small shrine known as Otome Inari shrine, dedicated to goddess Inari. There were some fox-statues which is very typical for an Inari shrine. We also found some nice stone carvings there; one of them depicting the famous three wise monkeys.

Torii-pathway

Torii-pathway

Statue of a fox

Statue of a fox

Stone carving

Stone carving

Nezu shrine is a must-visit place in spring because of the Azalea Flower Festival. The shrine has a wonderful azalea garden which has more than 3000 plants in it, and in spring (April-May) all these azalea bushes are in full bloom, making the garden bright and colorful.

Azalea garden at Nezu Shrine

Azalea garden at Nezu Shrine

It was already late-afternoon when we came out of Nezu shrine. We were hungry and started to walk towards Ginza, where we could get some Indian food. Ginza is one of the most luxurious shopping districts in the world, with numerous shops, shopping malls, restaurants and coffee-shops. It was really dazzling and gorgeous !

Ginza

Ginza

As expected, we found an Indian restaurant, where he had a delicious dinner. Finally we were on our way back to Kashiwanoha.

Day 6

It was not a sunny day, it was drizzling outside. But of course rain could not stop us. A rainy day is the best day to visit a museum, so we planned for Tokyo National Museum, which is a very old museum of Japan and has a huge collection of paintings, masks, sculptures etc.

Tokyo National Museum

Tokyo National Museum

The museum was very big and there were so many things to see there! We also found paintings from India. Some of the sculptures were also from India.

Sculpture, Tokyo National Museum

Sculpture, Tokyo National Museum

It wasn’t raining anymore when we came out of the museum. It was just early afternoon, and we were not in a mood to go back to our lodge so early… so we decided to visit Epson Shinagawa aqua-stadium, which is an indoor entertainment complex with aquariums full of water creatures. We were amazed to see thousands of fishes and other creatures of different colors and sizes; shark, stingray, starfish, Japanese spider crab and other unknown animals; the world under water was in front of our eyes!

Japanese Spider Crab

Japanese Spider Crab

We enjoyed a dolphin show in the aqua-stadium. The dolphins were carrying human beings on their noses! They were jumping rhythmically with the music. But, above all, the most attractive thing in that aqua-stadium was a show by two sea-lions. If they get to eat small fishes in regular time intervals, they can do pretty much everything; they can bow down, play balance game, catch objects thrown at them and even, they can say sorry for any mistake made by them during the show!

Stage performance of a sea-lion

Stage performance of a sea-lion

After the show ended, there was a interaction session between one of the sea-lions and the human beings. That was one of the most memorable interaction sessions of my life where I had an opportunity of handshake with a sea-lion !

The Handshake !

The Handshake !

After spending wonderful time in Epson Shinagawa aqua-stadium, when we finally came out, it was already dinner time. Six days were gone… but there were so many new things that I came across in such a short time !

Stuff your eyes with wonder. Live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world.

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