Kagoshima

14/08/2010

sakurajima

the big volcano across the bay from Kagoshima city

The initial impression of Kagoshima is that this place is way dirtier than anywhere else in Japan, with a lot of dark gray dust everywhere, piling up against buildings and In the spaces between the bricks in the pavement. Only it’s not dirt. This city is just across the bay from the Sakurajima volcano and receives a constant influx of dust and granules that are either light enough or spewed high enough to be carried across the water to land on the mainland.

squid

this was one of the many tanks that brought on seafood cravings.

bonito

two new bonito species for me. I'm not sure if these are really bonitos based on what's shown in the next pic.

katsuotataki

as shown in this cross section of Japanese bonito, the location of dark muscle is clearly medial rather than distal. This sample was acquired for research purposes only.

This is also a sort of odd destination for us–I didn’t know exactly what would there would be for us to do here except just to walk around among people who might be not-too-distantly related to me. In this very informal retracing of my Japanese roots, Kagoshima is the only part that wasn’t just a train stop along the way to somewhere else (the others are Fukuoka, represented by our transfer at Hakata station, and Shizuoka, where I’m headed today to lodge part of my family while others of us take on Mount Fuji). I also wanted to visit Minamata, and this is only about half an hour south of there on the Shinkansen.

From Kagoshima station, it’s a short walk to the port. The aquarium at Kagoshima is very nice. In the big tank they have a whale shark as well as several thunnids (including a couple of bluefin tuna and several species of bonito that I hadn’t seen before). I suspect that some of these “bonitos” (locally called “katsuo”) may actually be tunas, given the central position of dark muscle in the body.

electric eel

I got to watch electric eel thing stun a live loach several times before eating it

We also got to watch an electric eel hunt. An aquarium staff member dropped a loach into the tank and when the “eel” (not rely an eel) sensed the presence of prey, it blasted out a 180V discharge (which was transduced into audio static and a visual voltimeter display). Only the loach was fast and swimming away from the eel it managed to survive three blasts before it was finally stunned enough for the mostly blind predator to stun it lethally (I.e., at close enough range) and have supper.