No matter how much you study Japanese language and culture, there will still be times when you find yourself completely unsure of proper behavior. All signs around me pointed to petting the penguin (or attempting to), but there is that hanging doubt: maybe it’s just common sense not to, and I lack that sense?
It’s the everyday things that make you doubt yourself the most. Do I say “excuse me” to the cleaning lady when I leave the bathroom? Do I grab the slippers that were offered to me last time, or wait for them to be offered again? Where in the world do I buy a train ticket from a stop with no ticket vender and no one even attending the stop except for a bunch of spiders?
That last one was exactly my question after I finished up my day at the Matsue Vogel Park. At least it’s fairly easy to get to because the train stop is right at the edge of the parking lot. I went expecting more of a botanical garden than a zoo, but you really do go more for the birds–unless you dislike birds, in which case you go for begonias and fuchsia, or the musical performers in the atrium.
Thankfully I like them all, and I got a full day of sketching in, though it doesn’t take terribly long to walk through the entire park–especially since it’s all covered, so rainy days are fine too. There were lots of birds I had never seen before and that I certainly took a liking to–my favorites were the green turaco and white great rhea.
You can enjoy penguins in the parade (without petting them, they finally mentioned then), and you can also feed a variety of birds. I fed a toucan, an African cape penguin (not the one that bit me), and a pelican.
The place is probably best known for their owls, though. Quite a variety! I saw the other shows, but I missed the indoor owl show.