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Published: March 2nd 2008
One overcast Saturday and one out-of-prefecture friend on an 18-odd hour visit.
Did I mention the friend doesn't like snowboarding/skiing? (no offense my friend who shall remain nameless for safety reasons - my safety) Yes, I do actually have some non-snowaholic friends, quite a few actually. Whether that's still the case after next winter and my first full season owning a snowboard..........
Anyway, I picked my friend up from one of the train stations in Matsue and we headed off to Izumo to show her around Izumo Taisha, one of the more famous shrines in Japan. It started snowing just before we left Taisha, which excited my friend enough to want her photo taken among the flurry of white flakes. Maybe there's hope for her yet I thought........
On and back to Matsue we went looking for Vogel Park which is an aviary and flower park. I'm not hugely into bird watching, actually not really at all though I loved Tiritiri Matangi back home in Auckland. But it was on the I'll-go-sometime list, and worked nicely for filling in a couple of hours.
Depending on which blurb you read Vogel Park may or may not be the
largest greenhouse in the world. The entrance lobby ceiling is covered with hanging begonia and fuchsia arrangements - I suppose from the ceiling they'd have to hang ;-) - nice to walk straight into so much colour. The owl flys at three
. A couple of times a day there is an owl show where four of the park's owls get to use the audience as swooping practise. That takes place inside the main greenhouse - maybe they don't trust them not to go and check out the pasture on the other side of the fence. After the show you're allowed to line up for a closer shot (with a camera that is) at the owls. It was quite funny with the owl in front of you trying to get a shot with its head facing forward. Owls can rotate their necks on a 270 degress range to compensate for eyes which are fixed in a forward position. They also have twice the number of neck vertebrae as humans do. You learn something new every day. I could just imagine an owl version of Friday the 13th or whichever movie has the kid with the spinning head. Ok,
I know, long time no teen horror movie. Does the name of the movie matter?
It was good to see the numerous disinfectant stations, not that I saw many people making use of them.
Another area which was quite good was the outdoor lake. Probably my favourite there were the little black and white Tufted Ducks. They have a tuft of black feathers which look as though it was carefully gelled back into place, giving the little characters a bit of attitude. There's a pontoon in the middle of the lake which all the feathered beings seemed to happily share. That is, until all the pelicans ended up to one side of it causing a shift in the weight balance and a few of the birds ended up sliding into the water amongst a fair amount of squawking and flapping. It can be a vicious world out there.......
After a bit of a wild goose chase ( no pun intended ) via fancy hotel onsens which apparently we weren't allowed to use ("but it's on our map, we thought it was ok.........") we found our place to soak. Outdoor onsen attached, so my friend got her
wish of being snowed on in an onsen (hot pool). I think there's a snowaholic gene there somewhere.........
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