Monday, May 09, 2005

Park Life

Flick and I went to Nishiyama Park in Sabae on Sunday to do a spot of
"azalea viewing" (oh yes, the "viewing" doesn't just stop at cherry
blossoms you know) and I've got to say, I was thoroughly impressed.
The sheer quantity of flowers was staggering... Well, I don't need to
explain it, you can just look at the pictures below and see for
yourself. Not bad, eh?

Despite it being just down the road, yesterday was only the second
time I've been to Nishiyama Park, and it was the first time that I've
really taken a proper look round. My first visit was with the Nyu High
School drama club - one of the teachers roped me into appearing in
short film about internationalisation. I had to pretend I was a
tourist asking directions from some Japanese students, who then ran
away because they couldn't understand me. Moral of the story: "learn
English kids".

Anyway, it turned out to be a really interesting little park, with
loads of odd little things dotted all over the place (including one of
the best adventure playgrounds I've ever seen).

Then we saw the zoo.

It was awful - all the animals were in concrete cages that were far
too small for them, and most of them were moping around dejectedly or
pacing back and forth. It really was a hideous sight, and
unfortunately put a bit of a depressing slant on an otherwise great

From what I've been reading on the internet this morning, it seems
that Nishiyama Zoo is fairly typical of many zoos in Japan as well,
with many wildlife groups criticising Japanese zoos for their cruelty.
Zoos are popular here too - nationwide they have over 40 million
visitors a year, and if you factor in aquariums too, that figure goes
up to around 67 million. I've no idea why they're so popular - I can't
really see the entertainment in watching listless animals pacing
around a tiny cage...

However, things are changing slowly. Asahikawa zoo in Hokkaido has
recently experimented with displaying animals in a more natural manner
(ie giving them trees instead of concrete), and visitor numbers have
surged as a result. Hopefully some of these ideas will trickle down to
other zoos in the near future.

I really enjoyed my visit to Nishiyama Park, but the "zoo" was just an
embarrassment to the city. It was pointless too - there were only a
few animals there, and the whole thing seemed like it was tacked onto
the park as an afterthought. Come on Japan, you can do better than
this - it's a sad day when the flowers get more love and attention
than the animals...


Blogger Chris C said...

Once you're done with the azaleas, look out for the wisterias. They're popping up through the mountains right about now. I'm wondering if there's going to be a particular flower for every two weeks of spring and summer in this country...

11:01 pm  

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