Wednesday, July 6, 2011

25th Birthday Bash!

Wow, it`s been a long time since I blogged! I`ve been so busy! I just got back from five days in Singapore, and before that I had my 25th birthday on June 26th! Let me tell you about that first.

I can`t believe I`m a quarter of century old! But considering I`ve done more in the last 25 years than most people get to do in their entire lifetimes, I really don`t have anything to complain about. On Saturday, July 25th, I went with my friends Gale, Shino, and Shino`s boyfriend Daiki to the world-famous Toba aquarium, reportedly the second best aquarium in Japan. Shino and Daiki drove me there, and Gale met us at the aquarium.

Here`s my birthday picture at the aquarium, taken by the staff. They didn`t charge us just to take it with my camera:



First we saw a sea lion show, though I don`t like the way the Japanese treat their animals. The show was based on the legend of the “peach boy.” He and his friendly sea lion had to get their giant Toba pearl back from the evil oni (demon) and his sea lion by having a sea lion competition. It was pretty dumb. Why do the Japanese have to have a story for everything? The animals were totally clueless because they weren`t getting the right cues and did everything wrong, and then the trainers got mad and pulled on their flippers and yelled at them. They shut the poor penguin in the pearl box for about 30 minutes as part of the show. And they wonder why the animals don`t behave.

The penguins in the parade weren`t happy either. They were frightened of all the people and kept snapping at each other. It was really hot. Poor penguins! At least the baby in the bucket was cute.



Speaking of poor creatures, the crabs shaped like tanks kept flipping over. I wonder if they do that in nature? Sort of defeats the purpose of having an armored shell. I suspect they flip when trying to climb up the glass.

The trainers did a better job with the walrus show. They were funny and quite playful, blowing on harmonicas, smacking the trainers with their fins and pretending to laugh.



Here`s some baby beavers, though because of the glass you can`t see them so well:



Here`s an interesting goldfish exhibit:



Toba aquarium is probably most famous for their Dugong, an endangered animal somewhat like a manatee. Here he is eating:



The finless dolphin was also cute. He would come right up to the glass to observe us:





And here`s me beside a Harris Hawk. I have no idea what the guy was doing carrying a Harris Hawk around an aquarium, but it was interesting!



Shino bought me a really nice pearl bracelet made of local “reject” pearls. Only 10% of produced peals are considered “jewelry grade,” but these came pretty close. You had to look carefully to notice that each one either wasn`t perfectly round or was slightly discolored. But because they were “reject” pearls, they only cost 500 yen, or about $5.00. I`m glad they were cheap, because I think I lost the bracelet in Singapore!

We left around 4:00 to check out the famous wedded rocks of Ise. In Japan, they symbolize marriage. Lots of people marry there, and there`s no other rocks like that in Japan. Here`s Daiki and Shino beside them:



And all of us together:



For dinner, we ate curry at my favorite Indian restaurant. So good!

On Sunday, I went to church. Pastor Toshi talked about the Lord being our shepherd, since four mysterious sheep suddenly appeared in the cabbage field next to Max Value Supermarket. I fed them a carrot the other day, but I didn`t realize there was an electric fence, so I got shocked a little. They`re cute sheep, but we have no idea where they came from or who owns them. The only place in Japan that I`ve heard of that has sheep is Hokkaido, the northern most island. After church, and they had a little party for me afterwards with sandwiches and regular cake. Here we are all together, Pastor Toshi taking the picture:



In the evening, my Pilipino friend Karen came over and we had ice cream cake. I`ve always wanted ice cream cake for my birthday, but I didn`t think it right of me to ask anyone to buy it, so I bought it for myself from Baskin Robbins, the only good ice cream place in Japan. It was expensive, but really good!



She also got me these clothes because she said I need to start "dressing like a lady." I think she means that I usually dress like a boy. I suppose for the most part, that`s true.



So all in all, it was a pretty great 25th birthday. I have made so many amazing friends in Japan. I will miss them!

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

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