pictures, Science

Nagoya Aquarium – Fishes et cetera

Today I went to the Nagoya Aquarium.  Here’s a collection of vines of some of the fish I saw.  This aquarium was nice, but definitely didn’t have the curation quality that I found at the Uozo aquarium in Toyama.  Take a look and look for more posts in the coming days!

Note – the comments describe the species immediately below.

This is Chaetodon ulietensis or Chaetodon vagabundus. I’m not sure which.

Rhinecanthus verrucosus

A shrimp!

Ptereleotris? Don’t know.

Magochi. Platycephalus sp.

Whitegirdled goby. Pterogobius zonoleucus.

Bering wolffish. Anarhichas orientalis.

Japanese bandfish. Cepola schlegeli.

Lobster thing.

Loggerhead turtle.

Hiding!

Pig-nosed turtle and northern snake-necked turtle.

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Bioluminescence, pictures, Science

Sea Creatures of Uozu Aquarium – 1 – Pandalid Shrimp

I recently visited the Uozu Aquarium in Toyama while searching for the Japanese Fireworms in Toyama Bay. The aquarium staff were extremely helpful and hospitable, and our laboratory group had the chance to spend three leisurely hours exploring the aquarium.  I was able to take a lot of videos, so I plan on posting one per day here with short descriptions.

Day 1 – A Pandalid Shrimp

I’m not sure what this species is, but it is a pandalid shrimp – a species that is probably edible! These shrimps are found in cold waters, and aside from being delicious, are economically important.  Most pandalid shrimp start their lives as males, then become females later in life – a life strategy not uncommon in the ocean. Most species live between 3-5 years and can lay thousands of eggs in one season. Fried or fertilized?

Many Heterocarpus shrimp (a genus of pandalids) use bioluminescence to defend themselves by ejecting a blue glowing cloud into the surrounding water when disturbed.  This blue cloud gives the shrimps a chance to escape, like a squid’s ink cloud.

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Blog, Japanese, Science

Camaraderie in Japanese Laboratories.

Given the working schedule for natural science labs, there isn’t too much time for socialization outside of the lab. In short, being a member of a laboratory is akin to being a member of a Japanese “group,” or an intensive club that typically meets every day to play a sport, or partake in some other activity. “Groups” are defined by the close bond that members build over time, and by the strong senior-junior mentorships and social hierarchy that forms. This feeling is very apparent in the lab, whose members spent long hours in both exciting cooperative learning and in commiseration.

Me, ecstatic to receive a fossil from a labmate.

Me, ecstatic to receive a fossil from a labmate.

I was treated kindly by the other lab members from Day 1. Everyone has helped me at some point with finding an apartment, setting up internet, taking me to purchase a phone, et cetera. People have gone out of their way to help me when I really didn’t need so much help either – they simply wanted to make sure that things go smoothly.

One of my labmates studies bioluminescent fish. This is not a picture of my labmate, it is the Izu Scorpionfish. Scorpaena izensis. Unfortunately it is not bioluminescent.

One of my labmates studies bioluminescent fish. This is not a picture of my labmate, it is the Izu Scorpionfish. Scorpaena izensis. Unfortunately it is not bioluminescent.

Even more surprising, most members of the lab have gone out of their way to help without my request. For example, someone rode their bike for 1 hour to purchase a pair of waterproof boots after the professor stated I would need some for an upcoming trip. I can only hope to repay their kindness somehow someday.

Maybe I can repay them with the delicious bioluminescent squid, Watasenia scintillans. Also called the "firefly squid," they are eaten as a delicacy in Toyama Bay of Japan.

Maybe I can repay them with the delicious bioluminescent squid, Watasenia scintillans. Also called the “firefly squid,” they are eaten as a delicacy in Toyama Bay of Japan.

There are ample casual conversations that happen during the day during mealtimes and in between experiments that have been good opportunities to get to know the lab members on a more personal level. I was even invited to a party of other research students through one lab member. As far as socialization outside of the research circle and other scientists… well, there really isn’t that much. I attended a castle tour with other foreigners and English-speaking Japanese individuals, but mostly found myself interested in the one scientist I found who works on robotics, and the American JET teacher. Soon I hope to branch out and participate in more cultural activities.

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Blog, Japanese

Lunchboxes and Holy Porkchops.

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While us Fulbright Fellows were in Tokyo for orientation, we went to a ‘horikotatsu’ style restaurant – translated as ‘Holy Porkchops’.

In these restaurants a kimono-clad bijin (basically the opposite of a biddie) directs you to a private wooden room in the restaurant, complete with Japanese-style wooden doors clad with paper. After removing your shoes, she directs you to sit in the horikotatsu. The ‘hori’ part of the word means a hole, or a dug-out area, and a ‘kotatsu‘ is a table built close to the ground. So, we stuck our feet in this hole in the ground while sitting at a table.  Oh wait, the japanese word for porkchops is actually ‘tonkatsu‘, not ‘kotatsu‘. Maybe it doesn’t mean Holy Porkchops, after all.

Anyhow, I ordered a traditional ‘bento’ lunchbox of the 松花堂 variety. Basicially that just means that everything is split up into little rectangular sub-boxes. It was pretty stellar.

In the box: Beef with mayonnaise and greens (tl); some sort of tuna sashimi (tr); roast fish with egg, ginger shoot, seaweed (bl); and some roast root vegetables. On the small dishes there is shrimp and vegetable tempura, pickled cucumber, and some other stuff. The bowls contain soy sauce, white rice, ponzu dipping sauce, and miso soup.

In the box: Beef with mayonnaise and greens (tl); some sort of tuna sashimi (tr); roast fish with egg, ginger shoot, seaweed (bl); and some roast root vegetables. On the small dishes there is shrimp and vegetable tempura, pickled cucumber, and some other stuff. The bowls contain soy sauce, white rice, ponzu dipping sauce, and miso soup.

Fun meal. Other people got a sashimi platter. Beautifully arranged. 10/10.

Yum

Yum

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