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I hadn't had sushi since Tuesday! I fixed that, back to Sushizanmai for bintoro don, plus tamago and salmon on the side. No jelly dessert, though. Then off to Ueno Park, which I've had my eye on for a while. There's tons to do there -- at least three different museums, though I don't need to go to Japan to see Western art (then again, I live in Bloomington, maybe I do) but I'd found THE ZOO. So I went there.


Many years ago, probably in 1999 when I visited San Diego, mlc23 gave me the phrase "yet another fucking antelope", or maybe "gazelle", regarding her, and on reflection mine, boredom with the wide range of ungulates you can often find in American zoos. I'd much rather hang out in an aviary.

Well, Tokyo Zoo has "yet another fucking pheasant" as you walk in. Lots of pheasants and pigeons. The males are colorful, so I didn't mind. There were lots of other birds as well, Andean condor (big!), goshawks, secretary bird, big cranes, more cranes, parakeets or lories or whatever. Also various small mammals -- bats, ringcats, meerkat, dwarf mongoose, fennec fox, another cat. Red panda (ot such a small mammal), giant panda (supposedly, couldn't see), two-toed sloth (moving pretty briskly, it must be three-toeds that ever move fast), species of dormice (including edible), negu, cary, a South American enclosure with llama, capybara, and tapir all together. Elephant -- at first I thought just one loely pachyderm, then I saw a second, and around the corner I saw a whole herd disappearing somewhere. I approve: social animal should be social. Gorillas, lions playing with each other, tigers going in circles, a happy large colony of Japanese macaques, miserable looking polar bears, playful seals. The usual large mammals -- hippo, giraffe, rhino -- but it was the end of the day so I think they were off letting their enclosures be cleaned.

And, AFAICT, not a single antelope. Closest might be the okapi, in with the giraffe, or the mouse deer, which is unusual enough by its size to get a pass. Hell, it wasn't much bigger than the flying fox.

I heard 'kawaii!' again today. What else is one to say when viewing a sugar glider? Especially when one looks down into a hollow stump and sees a whole mass of sugar gliders moving against each other like squirming furry maggots? -- okay, so that image wasn't kawaii.

My camera filled up, the zoo closed, I left to explore the rest of Ueno Park. First think I ran into was an intricate Shinto shrine complex, with an artificial grotto with little cat figures, and what seemed an Inari shrine with foxes. I found more torii a bit later, this time accompanied by the same Auld Lang Syne music the zoo had been playing at closing time; around the corner was a traditional Japanese restaurant (serving women in kimonos or yutakas?, customers take their shoes off) hung with paper lanterns. This would be the Spirited Away experience.

I rested and meditated a bit, reflecting that my thoughts seem less verbally dominated these days. Maybe all the new visual input, or being surrounded by foreign language. I've also noted that I've never worn my glasses so continuously as after coming here, and considering that, as with my father, my left eye is considerably more nearsighted tha the right my right hemisphere has probably never enjoyed such continuous high-quality visual input. I wonder what it makes of it.

Big fountain, big model of a blue whale outside the science museum, then I found a very busy shopping district of Ueno, those narrow crossing pedestrian alleys you might associate with Oriental cities. I saw a place doing the sushi trays on a conveyor belt thingy, which I've never done, so I tried that. 2500 yen for 11 trays, each with 2 nigiri (or 6 small tekka maki in one case) and that's including one 400 ye chu toro tray and one 525 yen joh o toro. (Fatty tuna, really fatty tuna. This would be the mercury poisoning worry.) Actually, between the state of some of the pieces (not smelly, but a bit dry on the fish or rice) and the low price of the otoro ($4 for a single piece at Domo in Bloomington or at Sushizanmai) I suspect this wasn't a top quality place. Tea came from little jars of green tea and toasted rice powder, which you'd mix with hot water from a tap.

Then back home, to catch up with things, and wonder if I'll try to visit Roppongi on a Friday or try to sleep early for once.

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( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
mlc23
Aug. 22nd, 2008 12:18 pm (UTC)
Many years ago, probably in 1999 when I visited San Diego, mlc23 gave me the phrase "yet another fucking antelope", or maybe "gazelle", regarding her, and on reflection mine, boredom with the wide range of ungulates you can often find in American zoos.

Thanks for the reminder of that trip. While San Diego zoo is most impressive, they did seem to use the ungulates as "filler" in their rather large park. The result was that you had to walk for miles and miles (or seemed like it anyway) if you actually wanted to just see the exotic/interesting stuff. In some ways I prefer zoos that have just a few carefully designed displays.

I saw a place doing the sushi trays on a conveyor belt thingy, which I've never done, so I tried that. 2500 yen for 11 trays...

Ah... Kaiten-zushi!!! I was just thinking tonight that I needed to suggest you do that. In my experience the quality of the sushi at kaiten places isn't great but its relatively cheap and kind of fun and you can easily eat as much or as little as you want.

We do kaiten often because its very family friendly. We can start eating immediately after sitting down (important with a babe) and we can leave the minute our toddler starts getting fussy. The kaiten place near our apartment has high chairs that push right up to the sushi bar.
mindstalk
Aug. 22nd, 2008 12:48 pm (UTC)
Ah, so that was kaiten-zushi. You also get exactly what you want, in my case salmon, tuna, and some egg, and no roe, octopus, or god help me, okra. Though cephalopods were certainly available; some pieces looked like little whole cuttlefish.

Of course, you can get the same thing with paper orders, but as you say this is fast.

Addendum: sushizanmai has a fish tank. I asked what they were ("Sakana wa namae o des ka?" not sure about the particle), got told shima aji and tai, red snapper. Wasn't sure which was which, and lacked the vocabulary to ask if it was decoration or a holding tank for future meals. Googling shima aji led to what seems like a nice page of fish.

What I haven't been having is hamachi, top quality yellowtail. I could have asked for it, but after the otoro and tekka maki (ordered mostly for the seaweed) I called it quits.

Glad to remind you about the antelopes. :)

Edited at 2008-08-22 12:49 pm (UTC)
coalboy
Aug. 23rd, 2008 04:40 am (UTC)
Did you see the hummingbird aviary in the San Diego Zoo? Simply wonderful.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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