Toji Flea Market Kyoto and Osaka Aquarium

We started our first day in Osaka by travelling to Kyoto to see the Toji flea market. This market takes place once a month and is famous for second hand kimono. When I first went there in 2008, I had the impression, that most people sold second hand kimono. This time it was a little different.

The market is huge – no matter how you look at it. There were many stalls offering food – takoyaki, yakisoba, fried sweet potatoes … basically everything that can be eaten while walking around. And lots of things one could use at home for cooking like fish and tsukemono Then there were many vendors selling plants – like for example small kaki trees. We found one vendor selling kakis and bought about one kilo and they were absolutely delicious!

I browsed through about every stall I found selling second hand obi, as I am looking for an obi to go with my rose colored kimono –  but I didn’t find any. I also tried on a lovely blue kimono, but it was too small 😦 So if you want to buy a kimono there, you should be small or you need some luck.

After three hours we walked back to the station and browsed through the omiyage section in the basement, a section with shops offering only sweets and other foods you could bring for your family or colleagues. Unfortunately the sweets had a very short storage life and we didn’t buy any. Although some dango (ricecake) with kaki jam filling looked just right 😉

After we returned to Osaka we went to the Osaka aquarium Kaiyukan. It features the self-proclaimed largest indoor tank in the world, which houses large fishes from the pacific ocean, mainly sharks and rays with the largest being two whale sharks. The aquarium shows a wide variety of lifeforms associated with the marine life, but is not limited to fishes. It also features mammals as dolphins, seals and sea otters and birds.

At Kaiyukan I saw real life sea otters for the first time in my life (outside of a TV). And while I found them cute from the first time seeing them on TV I was surprised by their size. They are about 1.5m long. I had always thought they were closer in size to normal otters.

The route through the exhibition circles around the main tank of the aquarium. This gives the visitor a lot of possibilities to have a look at the sharks and rays in the tank. And if you are just a little bit patient, you can get a close up view of the majestic whale sharks as they swim by the window. Taking photos is a tiny little bit difficult, as the rays are really good at photo bombing ;D They got me more than once.

I also liked a tank which represented coastal waters with lots of pots and natural caves and rifts. Because I counted eight octopuses. I am really fond of octopuses as I like their intelligence and skills like being able to change their color and pattern to match the ground. And I liked the dolphins and the squids and the sea turtles 😀

We spend the complete afternoon at the aquarium and if the tanks had flat glasses – not curved – we might have considered staying until the aquarium closed. But after three or four hours it gets more and more difficult to look at the animals in the tanks because your eyes and brain protest the constant need to somhow cope with the contortions.

There is just two things that I didn’t like: first, I think the tanks for dolphins and seals should be larger and second, many larger fishes had injuries on their fins or noses and one turtle had a missing portion in its shell right above its tail. I would be really happy to find out, that the tanks were updated, so that fish wouldn’t injure themselves. Or maybe they came injured to the aquarium….

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