Ask many foreigners their opinion on Japan and it will more than likely include some kind of reference to something weird and wonderful whether it be a silly TV programme, a funnily named drink, a quirky festival, a strange flavoured food or a themed restaurant. This post certainly does nothing to dispel that stereotype!
On the back of a couple of busy days in Yamaguchi prefecture, we returned there to visit my wife’s Aunt for lunch in an area that isn’t that far away from Oppai Kannon a.k.a. the breast temple or the sights we visited in Yamaguchi-ken a couple of years ago in the Japanese Golden Week holiday season. After a great meal and a few lunchtime beers, she very kindly dropped me off at Tokuyama Zoo.
Entrance to the zoo was 410 yen. There weren’t any English pamphlets but if you can recognise pictures of animals (or read katakana) then you really won’t find it difficult to get round this fairly compact zoo. My reason for visiting though was not really to see the animals but to experience the special poo exhibition.
They say that we British love our toilet humour and that is certainly true in my case whether it be visiting Elephant Poopoopaper Park in Thailand, dining out at the Modern Toilet Restaurant in Taipei or dragging my wife and her parents to the Temple of the toilet god in Izu city. My first port of call at Tokuyama Zoo was to enter the building (through doors with comical poo-shaped windows!) where the exhibits were on display.
The next six pictures (below) are not for those of a sensitive nature as they show the bowel movements for about a dozen animals including elephants, giraffes, rabbits, tortoises and foxes. Tokyo Fox usually laps up any kind of kitsune (fox) reference but this is surely taking things a bit too far!! The orange stars at the bottom of each animals information card ranks their odour from one to five with the higher number being the most smelly! Carnivores generally have the smelliest poop!
The highlight of the exhibition has to be the chance to get your hands on an elephant’s poo. It was of course dried, disinfected, and coated with a varnish to make it safe and odourless. Something to do with health concerns no doubt!!
Thank god there was a sign (above) telling us not to eat the poo! I’d heard beforehand that the red panda’s poop was supposed to have a pleasant smell due to their bamboo diet only being partially digested. There was a special smelling device on hand for visitors to experience this but I can’t say it was anything noteworthy. Neither awful nor nice, just a typical countryside-like scent!
I’m still not sure what this special-room (below) was all about. You entered through the mouth of an animal and it was full of long thin pink balloons inside. Maybe it was supposed to be an interpretation of the inside of the animal!
As for the rest of the zoo, that was very typical of most zoo’s and included lions, tigers, elephants, penguins, tortoises, red pandas, black tailed prairie dogs and many more.
It seems that Tokuyama Zoo has some links with the Department of National Zoological Gardens just south of Colombo in Sri Lanka. There were a few signs around the place alluding to such an alliance. Towards the rear of the place is a petting zoo giving the chance for kids to experience less-wild animals up close. A schedule is posted outside that building saying which animals are available at what times.
For some reason there’s an old D51 steam locomotive right outside the zoo and next door is the fairly nondescript Yusui Jinja shrine which was actually struck by aerial bombing in WWII and burnt down.
Sadly the poo exhibition was only temporary and finished at the end of August. I felt very lucky that I could see it whilst in the vicinity and it certainly brings another meaning to the phrase “Tokyo Fox is full of sh*t!!”
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