I am a graduate student at UC Berkeley studying the diversity and evolution of whelks. This summer I was sponsored by the NSF (USA) and JSPS (Japan) to work with Dr. Seiji Hayashi at Nagoya University in Japan to collect buccinid gastropod (whelk) tissue samples and examine whelk shell collections at musems throughout Japan. Sugoi! Some of the snails that I study are pictured to the right.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Ceramics and captive animals

Nagoya has a well-known ceramics factory tour at Noritake Garden and a sizable zoo and botanical garden. I visited these sites over the weekend and will tell you about them! First, Noritake.As you would guess, there was lots of fine china made by the Noritake company. In the mid-1900s, most Noritake china was designed with American buyers in mind, so much so that Japanese artists were sent to America to draw American landscapes, flora, fauna, nautical themed objects, and American Indian motifs, which were sent back to Japan and hand painted onto plates, serving dishes, cups, saucers, etc.Next, the Zoo. Sadly, most of the animals here have it pretty bad. The enclosers are small and many of the large carnivores had stereotypies like pacing and repetitive rocking. By far, the best part about the whole zoo experience was encountering this little friend, the Japanese racoon dog! I think it is the inspiration for the enigmatic bear-like animal in the picture with me in Arimatsu (see previous post). Amazingly, this zoo also had motionless, un-caged dinosaurs! They had huge eyes and were morphologically similar to those from the 1985 Sean Young movie, Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend. Mokele-Mbembe!The botanical garden was far more impressive (maybe except for the dinosaurs) and had a huge greenhouse as well as a Wollemi pine, a gift to Nagoya from Sydney, Australia. More information about this amazing tree is here.An insect collection was also housed nearby, and it was the highlight of the trip! First, it had beautiful displays of beetle biogeography in Japan.And what looks like a display of butterflies, but is actually...Cicadas!

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