Saturday, November 3, 2012

Enoshima Aquarium

Today we took our girls to Enoshima Aquarium as part of Thing 2's birthday celebration. I had heard good things about the aquarium - not too far, small, but well done. We had great directions, and knew the route already from having driven towards that beach area before. However, we had no clue that there was a race going on today - right along the main drag in front of the aquarium. Lots of roads were blocked off once we got close and so I had to navigate my husband through a bunch of tiny Japanese neighborhood roads. We went way past the aquarium, then had to try and loop back. The girls were complaining in the back of the car and we almost scraped another car or a wall more times than I can count. But using our directions, I found a way to get us back to a parking lot right across the street from the aquarium. The whole reason we drove, instead of taking the train, was that our neighbors recommended it. It wasn't going to be too far and they said there would be parking. So, once we spotted the parking lot, we grabbed a ticket, parked the car, and headed across the street.

The aquarium was a little pricey, but not so much different than any other aquarium you'd visit in the States. It wasn't horribly crowded and had some nice exhibits. The girls really seemed to enjoy themselves. And, for it's small size, it surprises you with a dolphin show! Yes, it's like a mini-SeaWorld!

Look at Thing 2's face!

My personal favorite. I loved this guy.

Thing 1 was captivated by the school of fish.

Big sister spent a lot of time showing things to  little sister.

Thing 1's favorite creature in the aquarium.

I said, "Excited faces, ready and go!"

Dolphins and a porpoise.

We are the only Caucasians in the audience. That has been something to get used to since moving to Japan.... 

By the time the dolphin show was over, Thing 2 was done. She was tired and ready for a nap. So we headed out and crossed the street to get the van. We loaded up, and put our ticket in the machine to pay our fare. We almost died when the price came up. We sat there for a couple of minutes just debating over whether or not it could be correct. For about 3 hours of parking, our total was 6000Y (or roughly, $70 US)!! Then, when we tried to pay, the machine wouldn't take our large bills. We tried all our small bills and ALL of our change, but were still 1980Y short. So, I did what any illiterate foreigner would do. I grabbed my iphone and my wallet, and headed to the sidewalk on the main drag of street. 

I opened up my translating app, and typed in, "We are trapped in the parking garage. Do you have change for yen?" No joke. All I needed to say was, "Can you break this 5?" but I couldn't do it without an app and lots of confusing hand-motions. I saw a nice-looking old couple, and in Japanese said, "Excuse me," then, "I can't speak any Japanese." :) I showed him my phone and while he tried to read the Kanji (thank god it translates it into written Japanese instead of making me try to pronounce it myself), I tried to explain with hand-motions how the machine wouldn't take my money and I needed change. Finally, he seemed to understand what I was trying to say and he said something to his wife. She opened her purse, got out her wallet and pulled around several 1000Y bills. We swapped them with my 5000Y bill and I bowed over and over again, saying, "Arigato gozaimasu!" Arigato gozaimasu!" (Thank you, thank you!). 

Moments like that humble you. I realized that even though I'm feeling more comfortable in Japan, I STILL don't know how to read even the most basic of signs. Maybe if I'd been able to do that, we could have saved a ton of money! But it also makes you greatly appreciate kind strangers who don't laugh at you (at least not to your face), and are willing to help you out if they can. 

So, yes, Enoshima Aquarium is a nice little trip. It would probably be especially nice if you didn't go on a race day and took the train instead of driving. :) You live and you learn.

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