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Sunday, June 24, 2012


It was more than two decades ago when I first went to the Osaka Aquarium that I saw my first two whale sharks.  Later came Yu-Chan and Kai-kun.  Unfortunately, Yu-Chan passed away five years ago and Kai-kun....well, let me bring you up to date.

First, I arranged for a stop through Osaka primarily to follow up on whale sharks, for they predictably spark the most visits to my blog site, plus I someday envision them replacing cattle as the steak of choice.  I arranged for an Osaka Kaikyu Ticket, which allows you to visit the aquarium and still have an all day transport pass throughout Osaka.  This was a Sunday, so I had to fight the crowds. Let me start with a few photos:

I never saw the whale sharks.  Of course, I knew that Yu-Chan had passed away five years ago, but it was disconcerting that Kai-kun was on vacation in Koichi.  The guide explained to me that life in the tank is stressful so our fish need some R&R.  But we have a lot sardines:

Unfortunately, I later learned that Yu-chan was sent to Koichi because she kept upchucking food.  She subsequently died on Shikoku.  Well, the fact that Kai-kun was also sent to Kochi is not a good sign.

Okinawa's aquarium, the second largest, has three whale sharks (above), and the Georgia Aquarium (left), the largest, has four.  But two have already succumbed in Georgia, so there is a suspicion that whale sharks cannot be kept in captivity.  Five are on display at the Yantai Aquarium (below) in China.  There is also some concern about the ethics of keeping such  large creatures in a tank.  Aquaria emphasize the research they are doing, not unlike the Japanese whalers.  Perhaps a real world aquarium can be considered for the Pacific International Ocean Station.

Mind you, the Osaka Aquarium also had other more terrestrial sights:

That's an otter.  Below, the largest rodent, a capybara:

But the lack of a whale shark was disappointing.  Here is a shot of the Osaka Aquarium from Cosmosphere:

A subway stop away:

Doesn't look like much here, but it is four stories high and dominates the view from Osaka.

I then went on to the Osaka Castle (below).  You need to understand the history of the Shoguns around 1600 to appreciate the historic prominence of this building.  Because it was built of wood, it has been rebuilt anywhere from two to seven times, depending on who you cite.  Battles, fires (they used lanterns and candles), lightning,  earthquakes, World War II...there is no standing "old" Japanese castle.  Even the Himeji Castle in Kansai is undergoing a re-do, which will continue for another four years.

On my way back to the St. Regis, I couldn't resist taking a photo of an old man and his dogs:

And the almost same blue flower as Tokyo:

Oh, I  also saw, for the first time ever, a two foot snake, sort of brown with some green, that slinked into a the wall of the Osaka Castle when it observed my interest.  The bus stops are very informational:

Finally, I've come to a conclusion that the St Regis Osaka is now my favorite hotel in the world.  Why?  The service, the fact that it sits on a major subway stop (Honmachi), a mile long shopping promenade begins next to this property, they provide nearly $40 of free liquor daily from the room bar, the free breakfast is outstanding, the TV/sound system is fabulous, the view mesmerizing, a walk-in closet, pieces of art scattered throughout and room, and the bath has a panoramic view of Osaka:

Note the bath pillow to the right (which I took home in my previous stay here), and you can't see the TV set above the faucet.  I also paid one-tenth the Pierre  Gagnaire lunch by bringing back to my room the following:

An Osaka Dojima beer, Hibiki 17-year Suntory scotch (a full bottle costs around $100, but the hotel provides two of these smaller ones free everyday) and a Niigata sake.

Next, Busan and the Yeosu Ocean Expo.



Anonymous said...

nice posting.. thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

No whale shark should EVER be held in captivity: any compassionate human being should know this.

Nor should they become your new 'steak'!!!

The cause of death of your beloved Yu-Chan was that it tried to kill itself (by not eating). In an effort to keep making money from this poor creature, the aquarium force fed her, and then it finally died. This is horrific - can you not see this?

If this is what it takes for human beings to realise they whale sharks cannot survive in captivity, then so be it; but this is a fact which overlooks the very idea of PLACING them in captivity in the first place!

This is a tragic scenario, and I hope all the whale sharks in captivity are able to successfully starve themselves to death, as this is surely the only action an intelligent and sensitive creature such as them can choose - given their enforced incarceration.


If you eat fish, then a whale shark should not trouble you. A whale shark is not a whale. it is a shark. Of course, it is a shame that we kill sharks just for the fins, but we can logically extend the don't eat certain biological commodities down to carrots and algae. Humanity has consumed mammals from before cavemen days. Maybe the extinction factor and awesome size of whales might argue for preservation. But a well tended ultimate ocean ranch of whale sharks could well someday become a future source of tasty protein.

pattygolden said...

Loved your Thursday post very much! Thanks.