Friday, April 8, 2011

Tennoji Zoo and Osaka Castle

Last Saturday, it was such fine weather that I decided to go to the Tennoji zoo and castle in Osaka. The Tennoji zoo is good, not great. About average, probably. Here are some pictures:



I know most people don`t go crazy over black vultures, but this guy looked JUST LIKE ACHA in my Bird Girl novel series (I`ve finished writing the first two books and am currently working on the third), so I got lots of pictures of him.

I`ve never seen a camel kneeling before, but come to think of it, they must do it quite often. How else do people get on their high humps?




Here`s a cute cat:



Pretty Pheasant:



Red Panda:


Spectacled Bear:


In the Pavilion, there were some performers. I stopped to see the "Hula Hoop" girl, as I`ve come to call her:





And a brother and sister stunt act:





My favorite exhibit was the nocturnal animal house. Check out these bats. So cool!





That`s why I like going to different zoos. Even though they sometimes have the same animals, they act differently depending on how the exhibit is set up. I had never seen them eating and fighting over food like that before.

After the zoo, I saw the attached botanical gardens:











Then I went to Osaka Castle. So much good food there for the hanami (flower viewing) parties! The sakura (cherry blossoms) were just opening, but they were still beautiful:



I must have bought $12 in fair food. The castle itself is nicely preserved on the outside, and a museum on the inside. Here`s the castle:



With Sakura:


Up close:


There, I learned all about the history, especially the summer campaign of 1615 when the castle fell to Tokagawa Iesu. I really don`t like him. I`ve nicknamed him "the Japanese Hitler." Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the guy who built Osaka castle, had worked really hard to unify Japan and was a generally nice fellow, as far as pre-modern rulers are concerned (he was liked by the locals, anyway). But Iesu destroyed the peace and unity that Toyotomi had worked so hard to create, slaughtered everyone in the castle, killed the children in front of their mothers, and raped the women. He did it to Nagoya castle too. And he was a terrible dictator. He massacred all the Christians, banned foreigners on pain of death, forbid any Japanese to leave Japan, and ruined the Japanese economy. He was also the first ruler to claim he was a god. What a rotten fellow.

There was a place where I could pay to put on Samurai armor and try one of their katana swords. Normally I don`t pay for extras like that, but I wondered, "where else am I ever going to realize my dream of looking absolutely ridiculous pretending to be an ancient warrior? So I put them on in front of the tiger statue, which happens to be my Oriental zodiac. Here`s a picture:



The pose I`m doing is a traditional defensive stance. I looked really dumb in my attacking ones because I couldn`t wipe that stupid smile off my face.

On the way out, I saw some locals feeding the stray cats. There must have been 10 cats eating the spoiling fish! Here they are:



Tuesday, another refugee came to stay with me. My first two got free housing from the Kyoto government, so they`re there now. This one is an American and she`s really nice. I never realized how much I like having someone else in the apartment.

Next week, I`m headed for Kyoto with my friend Kayoko. What fun!

Prayer Requests: This refugee came to stay with me because she has cancer. The radiation was really, really bad for her, made her sick. Please pray for her health. And of course, please continue to pray for the other earthquake/tsunami/radiation victims as well.

Until next time, keep praying and keep loving, no matter what the cost,
L.J. Popp

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