In celebration of Vaccine, Part 1, I decided to visit a part of the coast I have been to before, but with a slightly different agenda in mind. I got my Shinkansen reservation early, using a program that makes Green Car cost the same as Ordinary, if you meet certain criteria -- and I made sure I did. I had a Tozan pilgrimage set up for Saturday and Sunday, something I aim for every month, so I thought I'd go down a day early, on Friday, and spend that day in Mishima and Numazu.
Mishima, surprisingly, isn't actually on the coast. Numazu was its port city. Both are on the Old Tokaido Highway. Mishima is a stop for the Tokaido Shinkansen and both it and Numazu are on the Tokaido Main Line, which meant -- trainwise -- I could make this a convenient little jaunt, hopping off the Shinkansen at Mishima, taking the Tokaido line to Numazu, fooling around in Numazu and then getting the Tokaido line on to Fuji, seeing a bit of the coast I wanted to explore. Shin-fuji station, for the Shinkansen, and my usual hotel (since we can't stay on Temple grounds right now) are just a short bus ride from Fuji station. And, since it's Japan, if all else fails, there is always a cab.
Before, when I went to Numazu, I took a long boat ride around Suruga Bay. It's huge. It's at the foot of Mount Fuji, very extensive and incredibly deep, up to about 7500 feet. It also features in The Shadows of War. So, certainly I wanted to do that again! I am always up for a boat ride. In addition, there are a couple of interesting museums in Mishima and there's an aquarium in Numazu.
Weather intervened. It rained. Not only that but it poured! I couldn't for the life of me find a bank of coin lockers or a checkroom in which to stash my bag in Mishima station while I ventured out to the museums. While I could have taken a local train to within a few blocks of the most interesting one, I wasn't going to do so in the pouring-buckets-turn-your-umbrella-inside-out storm lashing about outside while hauling a suitcase. Even a small one.
Instead, I went straight to Numazu, a ten minute ride away, where I found the coin lockers easily and the bus to Numazu-ko (port) readily accessible. However, I was reminded again that Japan can be difficult at times, especially outside major metropolitan areas. In Tokyo, I use my Suica card for all sorts of minor things, like local train fares, buses, coin lockers, convenience stores, vending machines. I don't keep change. It's heavy! But here, not only did the locker demand change, there was no change machine. A local Family Mart was accommodating and apparently used to it. I also picked up enough change for the bus.
It was very windy but not too rainy then, though rain would return with torrential abandon just when I was ready to return. The boats were not running, and I don't blame them. It was certainly too windy and nasty for small craft to be noodling about unless their services were essential. One of the boats is a ferry, but it wasn't going anywhere, either. A bus goes to the same destinations; it just takes longer.
Many people don't like aquariums. That's understandable when many are purely entertainment venues. But in Japan, the ones I have seen are research facilities that maintain exhibits to educate the public on their missions and provide some funding for their projects. Everything's very well done and the animals beautifully cared for. The Deep Sea Aquarium in Numazu is one such facility, taking advantage of its location to plumb the enormous depths of Suruga Bay to learn more about the Bay and those who live there, and even discover new species, one as recently as January, 2021.
They also have a specialty in coelacanths, though to be long extinct, discovered in 1938 to still exist by Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer, a South African museum curator who was called to look at the by-catch of a commercial fishing vessel. She knew she was seeing something extraordinary, and made sure it was called to the attention of the world scientific community. Since then, humans have discovered this fish to be happily living and swimming (there are even films!) off the coast of Africa to this day. Why Japan became so intensely involved, I do not know, but they certainly are and their research program is remarkably well outlined and explained.
The exhibit tanks replicate the environments the creatures come from, including low light conditions when appropriate. Flash photography is not permitted and in some areas no photography is possible at all.
This pretty little crab lives just about everywhere. They have the enormous Spider Crabs, and others, too.
Why, yes, that is a fish.
The staff take excellent care of exhibits. Here, an octopus was getting lunch.
Seahorses, because, well, seahorses.
I love the little sand eels. They are so cute and smart and responsive. They also make great mascots and appear on every imaginable bit of merchandise, including appropriately curved body pillows.
Here is Professor Coelacanth. Can you see his glasses? All the real stuffed, dried and even frozen specimens were amazing, but in containers that reflected light and could not be photographed.
Many of the specimens on display are obtained as by-catch from commercial fishing boats, especially deep water ones. They try to keep any such specimens alive, take care of them and keep them in a good, happy environment to study them. Look up the Flapjack Octopus
. They're so darned cute the aquarium is desperate to exhibit them, and continue work on creating an environment for them, as they are a deeper water species. They do not go looking for them but study them as best they can when they turn up. You can buy plush ones (at least 5 sizes), a T-shirt, key chains, hats, towels, paper goods (I succumbed to a notepad), refrigerator magnets and goodness knows what all else. The staff say that they rotate the exhibits, so no individuals have to deal with human observers too much. But not the Flapjack Octopus. The one you'll see in a tank is a model.
This is the new species discovered in January of 2021 in Suruga Bay.
Since this is Japan, we have a lighted, LEGO, Colecanth. Just because.