Starbucks. Smokey ("You've Really Got A Hold On Me"), Marvin and Tammi ("Ain't No Mountain High Enough"), and the Queen of Soul ("Natural Woman") start the morning off right (the cute English-speaking barista was a plus!). Hopefully the Japanese didn't mind the lip-synching gaijin!
The trip to the aquarium was a straight shot from Komaki (I could have stayed on the same train all the way to Nagoyako, but hopped off at Kanayama for coffee since the aquarium didn't open until 9:30), although the building was a couple of blocks from the subway station (kind of hard to miss, what with the giant Ferris wheel). Admission was 2000 yen, same as the Osaka aquarium.
The first thing that you notice is the Pacific white-sided dolphins; their tank is directly opposite the entrance. The dolphins were very social and curious, and a clever Japanese teen brought a shiny silver pompom and car keys that he used to play with the dolphins. One young dolphin in particular kept coming over to the glass and trying to snatch the tinsel strands in his mouth...happiness is a dolphin laughing. I probably sat watching the dolphins for at least half an hour, long after the toddlers lost interest. They kept swimming over and looking at me, sometimes turning back and coming over to line themselves up at eye level. There was a rather sad-looking seal in a too-small tank, and an empty tank where Nami the killer whale was prior to her recent death (there was a memorial with fresh flowers).
Further down was a larger tank of bottlenose dolphins that was used for the dolphin show (I caught a little bit, but it was really cold topside and I'm still getting over my cold). There were several other dolphins in a side tank that were obviously agitated by the show; they were perching themselves on the tank ledges and were watching the show. The south building housed an assortment of turtles, tropical reefs, and penguins. There was an origami station for the kids and the mandatory gift shop.
Next, I took the subway back to the always insane Sakae to catch a bus to Tokugawa-en. This time I came armed with detailed bus instructions, and had no problems in finding the gardens and museum. The weather was gorgeous if a bit cool, and I was surprised to see dozens of peonies in bloom despite the chilly weather (they were protected by straw huts). The gardens weren’t as formal as others I’ve seen, but it made for an enjoyable stroll.
The Tokugawa Museum features a large assortment of Noh theater props and costumes, samurai swords and armor from the Tokugawa clan. No photos were allowed inside, which was a shame, since there are several reconstructed Edo-era buildings including a tea ceremony building and a noh theater.