For those not in the know, last week was Golden Week in Japan, which means that normally over-worked Japanese get to take a mini-vacation. I got several days off, so I decided to go to Wakayama and do the beach/ onsen thing.
I woke up early Tuesday morning (5:30: OMG!) and took the train to Osaka then took the bus from Osaka to Shirahama in Wakayama. I tried to sleep on the bus there, but for some reason, I couldn't and kept looking out the windows. I was glad that I did though, because Wakayama is famous for Mikan (clementines) and Ume (Japanese plums) and I saw acres and acres of trees covering every available piece of hillside. It was hard to imagine someone getting out there to pick the fruit, but obviously someone does, a tribute to the Japanese efficient use of limited space. It's too bad plum-blossom season was already over, I bet the hills are spectacular in early spring.
After about 3 hours on the bus I arrived at Shirahama Adventure World, which is kind of a zoo/ aquarium/ amusement park. My first stop was the sea lion show. I only caught the tail end of it, but it was pretty funny; especially the little otter who kept running by pushing a cart. Very cute! Then I watched the dolphin show which was also pretty cool. They had dolphins and false killer whales (Japanese name: 'Okigondou
'; see pic below) who did all kinds of cool flips and stunts, including throwing their trainers into the air with their snouts. Neat-o!
After the dolphin and okigondou show we went to go see the pandas, which are the main draw of Adventure World, but I couldn't really get psyched about them, 'cause they were brown instead of white (they looked seriously
in need of a bath) and they were all asleep. The baby one that we saw later was really cute though.
Next stop was the safari tour, which was fun but a little scary. You basically get into this long train on wheels that goes through all the animal enclosures, but inside the enclosures the animals are just wandering around freely, sometimes coming up close to the train, which can be pretty nerve-wracking when it's a tiger or a lion that's just 3 feet away from you.
Beside the safari tour they also have a petting zoo where you can touch deer, turtles, guinea pigs, small monkeys and the like. Next door to the petting zoo is 'Bark-bark Land
' which is just a little pen where you can go and pet some dogs. Kinda cheesy for an amusement park attraction, but I liked it, especially this one totally hyper little min-pin they had running around. They also had a big fat seal that you could feed, and I did. He would make a little grunting nose like a pig or wave his flipper at you if you gave if a signal and then you gave him a fish as a reward. Pretty good deal for the seal, I thought.
I also went on some rides; they had a roller-coaster, a log-ride, a Ferris wheel, a merry-go-round and some go-karts as well as kiddy-rides. I got soaked on the log-ride had a good time racing the go-karts around, although the ones at 'The Game
' in North Haven are way faster, (To the folks back home: Is 'The Game
' even open any more?).
The last thing I did at Adventure World was to feed the elephant. (I missed the elephant rides earlier in the day, but I did get to ride on a camel.) For ¥200 you get a cup with a cut-up banana that you can feed to the elephant. The elephant is really smart though and if you don't give him all the bananas fast enough he wiggles the end of his trunk at you as if to say "Come on, I know how many bananas are in that cup, now cough'em up!" After I fed him I got to pet him a little and he was much softer than I would have expected.
Ok, this is too long already, so I'll finish up for now and write about Day 2 next time!
Labels: Animals, Stuff, Travel