An Outsider’s Perspective: Tenrikyo

Japanzine did a pretty good write up on the Tenri City and the Tenrikyo religion:

<blockquote>Unlike the Mormons’ inner sanctum, the Tenri main temple is open to unbelievers. We were allowed to walk anywhere we wanted within the 800 meters of the building. In some rooms people were casually praying (doing the te-odori hand dance and singing), while in others, the solemnity and seriousness of prayer was quite tangible. We walked by women receiving the Sazuke, or Divine Grant, an official license to begin spreading the word and recruiting followers.

To my dismay, no one tried to convert us while we were there. We found everyone to be quite friendly, and encountered zero hostility. As an added bonus, arriving a few days after New Year, we also received massive bags of mochi, free, from God herself!</blockquote>


Of Boners and cataloguing fish

I have embarked upon a mission to catalog all of the fish on exhibit, including common names, scientific names, and Japanese names, along with interesting facts about these fish.

One thing I discovered while consulting "Probably More Than You Want To Know About The Fishes Of The Pacific Coast" by Milton Love (I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the fish of the West coast of the U.S.) is that I have been mixing up the names of 2 similar, but different, fish.

Many people I have talked to have told me that "katsuo" is Japanese for "bonito", but this is wrong. The Pacific Bonito is "hagatsuo" in Japanese, while "katsuo" is actually a Skipjack Tuna, a species that only reaches about 40 inches in length.

Generally, Bonito, or "Boners" as some people like to call them, are not considered a delicious fish, but Love says that if you bleed them right away and keep them moist and cool they are good to eat.

Another interesting thing about Bonito, tuna, and other tuna-like fishes is that if you don’t store them properly, they can develop scromboid poisoning which is caused by bacteria breaking down the flesh and creating histamines. The symptoms include "nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea…" (Love, p.315).

No treatment is listed, but I’m guessing that maybe you should treat this like food poisoning, maybe take an anti-histamine, and if things get bad enough, definitely seek professional help. Better yet, if the tuna smells funky, maybe you shouldn’t eat it. If the can is bulging and releases a rancid gas when you pop the top, it’s best to not eat that stuff. Scromboid, botulism, it doesn’t matter- it’s not worth risking your health!

This is a bit off of the topic, but my friend Matt asked if we have Albacore on exhibit. We do not, and it seems like they are not an easy fish to keep in captivity, so we probably won’t be having any of those any time soon. Nor are there any Blue Sharks in the Outer Bay Exhibit.

Here’s another weird tidbit. The Bluefins and Yellowfins are very, very hard to tell apart on exhibit. In Love’s book, an easy way to tell these tuna apart is to look at the second dorsal fin. The Yellowfin’s pectoral fin reaches the origin of the second dorsal fin, while the Bluefin’s does not. Also, the Yellowfin’s finlets are yellow, just as the name implies.

Yet, on exhibit, these two fish have morphed to such a degree that even the experts can’t easily tell them apart. Whatever the case, the largest fish in this exhibit (estimated weight 600 lbs) are the Bluefin, which can get over 1000 lbs in the Pacific. Those fish are found closer to Japan, which is unfortunate for those of us in the States, and for the tuna. Irony is a b*tch sometimes…

White Shark Released

After 137 days with Monterey Bay Aquarium, the juvenile male white shark was released this morning. I feel lucky to have been able to see this one up close for the past month and to learn so much about it.

Here are some interesting bits of information:

The male shark was originally caught by MBA’s white shark experts, by line and hook, just off of the coast of Malibu, California.

It’s age is estimated at just over a year old.

This white shark was 5-feet, 8-inches, and weighed 104 pounds when he was first put on exhibit. Upon his release he had grown to 6-feet, 5-inches long and weighed 171 lbs.

This is the second white shark ever successfully kept on exhibit anywhere in the world. By "successful", I mean that the shark was able to safely navigate the exhibit he was placed in (the Outer Bay Exhibit) and took food. Monterey Bay Aquarium has been the only aquarium so far to do these things.

The female white shark was with the aquarium for 198 days and reached 6-foot, 4-inches with a weight of 162 pounds. During her time on exhibit, she grew 1 foot, 4 inches in length, and put on 100 pounds!

The male shark was released just off of Point Pinos, and was tagged with a 90 day PAT tag.

This shark never attacked any of his exhibit mates, instead feeding on plenty of wild-caught salmon steaks which were personally delivered to him on the end of a pole (the salmon was tied to the pole with an easily digestible cotton string, in order to prevent the voracious tunas from nabbing it).

During his stay, the white shark generally cruised towards the top of the exhibit with his dorsal fin occasionally breaking the surface of the water.

Flashes from people taking pictures seemed to cause the white shark to spend less time towards the front of the glass, and more time in the back of the exhibit where he was a little harder to spot.

It was amazing to see how many people’s perceptions of sharks as malevolent, murderous monster were changed by simply watching him calmly cruising around the exhibit.

"Why isn’t he attacking the other fish?" is a question often heard in the Outer Bay Exhibit. When people find out that these creatures don’t kill everything in the oceans, and in fact help to keep the wildlife populations healthy, they want to learn more and generally start to develop an interest much different from the morbid, sensationalized portrayals that they are used to seeing on TV and in the movies.

A lot of people seem truly surprised to learn that most white shark attacks on humans are accidental. A human with four limbs sticking off of a surfboard looks like the silhouette of a sea lion or a seal from below. Upon tasting human, most white sharks don’t seem to come back to for seconds. It’s kind of like biting into what you think is a caramel flavored chocolate, and finding out that it is in fact the chocolate covered fruit and nut loaf.

Isn’t it cool that the aquarium keeps its animals’ welfare first and foremost in mind, when considering whether or not to keep them on exhibit or to release them. From what I’ve seen at aquariums around the world, this is not always the case. 

Time for 24

When I was in Japan last year, I looked forward to seeing a new episode of 24 each week. It was one of the highlights of the work week when I could discuss the show with my brother and a few like-minded friends.

I believed Justin posted this site last year, but I’m going to put up this link again:

It’s about to start, time to go!