*to Hanlon's razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Kamogawa Sea World: Boso Concrete

It's not possible to write this post without coming off as a précis of a 'Spike Japan' article, so I'll note the debt, and explain it away by the fact that posting about a visit to a Bubble-era resort could have no other outcome.
`Kamogawa Sea World' is not in such bad shape.  It seems to get the trade to pay for upkeep that so many `haikyo' lacked.  Credit has to be given for the location: an aquarium not only placed by the ocean, rather than something more Bubble-icious, but also in a town accessible from Tokyo and already with a summer surfing trade, on the Boso-Hanto.  It makes you think the `business plan' mightn't have been lubricated with maiko gyrating on amakudari laps.

They've had the money to keep up with the paint, but don't let yourself think that everything is not made of reinforced concrete.  This country uses so much, that although I do not know the names of any but the most common varieties of wood in Japanese, and certainly not of tile, gypsum-board, or insulation (does Japan have any?), the construction material I first learned vocabulary for was 鉄筋コンクリート: reinforced concrete.  If most N.Americans should not be trusted with guns or their opinions, most Japanese should never be left unsupervised with concrete or loudspeakers.

PETA members may leave off criticism.  Yes, there were dolphins and orca, penguins and seals, all in smaller environments more bland than I felt comfortable with; have you seen Japanese homes?  Glib?  Perhaps not.  The Native-Wife can't stand-in for the psyche of her entire nation, but she's the most convenient for me to base my heuristics on.  We did not agree on the trip, but with the macro view that my going or not wouldn't change the Japanese attitude to animal confinement, and the micro view that I have to live with this woman or pay far too much, I folded like a cheap newspaper. Though an admitted loser, I learned something from the confrontation: Japanese logic doesn't separate humans from the animal kingdom based on sentience, and often hardly at all.  Pardon me?  I tried to convince the Native-Wife that sentient animals should not be poorly confined, as it amounts to torture for them, as it does for a human.  I do not mind the idea of eating animals for the most part, if not endangered, but confinement is an ongoing horror, and cannot be abided.  She considered that differentiation of the animal kingdom speciesist, and wrapped up her justification at that.  My `staircase wit' that we can also put humans in zoos in Japan would have been funnier, if an American airman had not been put on display, naked, in the Ueno Zoo...

Continuing the animal-confinement tour, we went to `Mother Farm'.  This too gets lots of trade from the city, and has the money for keep-up.  If you asked me why it bothers me less to have farm animals confined than wild, I have justifications that avoid mere custom or cuteness:
- they're long bred for it
- they don't survive wild
- the conditions at `Mother Farm', at least, far exceed those at the aquarium, or our apartment
- the steak was very good
No arguments, but the last, impressed the Native-Wife.  Knowing their target-market, shopkeepers sell whale throughout the Boso-Hanto.

Boso does not get the trade that the other side of Tokyo gets: Hakone and Izu.  It shares many of the Pacific charms of Izu, but has the disadvantage of being on the wrong side of Tokyo.  Tokyo, like most northern hemisphere cities, has its money on its west side, because pollution blows to the hapless poor on its east (where we live).  Hakone and Izu were destined to have more tourist trade, because more people with money could get to them without adding half a day traversing the city with the unwashed.  Perhaps because it is cheaper, but certainly because it has decent breaks, Boso is well frequented by the Japanese surfer.  Other than that it seems to survive by the inshore fishery, Japan's heavily subsidized and aging agricultural sector, and tourist attractions chosen by various Native-Wives.

Do I recommend a visit?  The southern half of Boso is more treed and scenic than most of Kanto, and the eye needs a break from life in Tokyo, to keep any mental health.  So yes, but only for the long-term resident.  However, skip the tourist-attractions, and focus on visiting scenic spots by car, bicycle or motorbike.  The trains stick to the coast, except for a dying streetcar line through the middle; and I know nothing about the buses.  I do recommend the large Buddha at Nokogiriyama, or rather use it as an excuse to get a good view of the whole peninsula, Tokyo Bay, and the Miura-Hanto... on a better day than we had.  The lost view redeemed by a sighting of three inoshishi.


  1. After travelling to both Izu and Boso peninsulas last year, I felt that Boso was a lot prettier. We didn't get as far as we'd have liked because we didn't have accommodation booked and all the businesses hotels we could find were fully booked out (so it must be doing ok down there!)

    I'd love to go check out the aquarium. They have far too many dolphins at Japanese aquariums which are evil animals, and not enough sharks!

    Did you go to the cafe that has is under/beside the aquarium tank?

    I found attitudes in people I met in Japanese rather strange towards animals. I mean pets dressed up like little dolls and wheeled around in a pram = WTF?

  2. That cafe was closed when we were there! It's under the orcas, btw. I'm ambivalent about pets at best, but humans shouldn't have to live in Japanese housing, much less dogs. And I have seen just one, small, dog-run here, and the rest of the nation requires a leash. I have seen Labradors and Border-Collies downtown Tokyo and been ready to punch the owners for witless cruelty.