Monday, January 31, 2011

Sakana-kun (Mr. Fish)

Do you know Sakana-kun (Mr. Fish) ?

He is a fish researcher, TV personality and illustrator, whose real name is Masayuki Miyazawa. When I happened to see him on some TV shows several years ago, he was talking in a high-pitched voice with a childlike jolly twinkle in his big eyes, with a fish-shaped headwear on, sometimes jumping up and down joyfully. I saw his unfailing interest in fish and knowledge about them exuding from the way he talked.

Some years ago, I knew that he became a visiting associate professor at Tokyo Kaiyo University ( Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology) established with a merger of two national universities; Tokyo Shosen Univ. and Tokyo Suisan Univ. Interestingly once he failed to enter the latter university as a student. Despite failure, he didn't give up and proved himself in the field he was interested in.

Well, later last year, there was a big news which made a headline; The fish found in Lake Saiko in Yamanashi Prefecture was identified as a “kunimasu” salmon, a species that was believed to have become extinct 70 years ago. In 1940, because of the project of a hydroelectric power plant, lots of acidic water was drawn from the river into the Lake Tazawa in Akita Pref., the species’ only native lake, which resulted in extinction of the species.

Lake Tazawa

However, there were reports saying five years before the project, an attempt was made to preserve the species by transferring its roe in Lake Saiko. The list of extinct or threatened species continues to grow worldwide but as for this species, with a consideration of people involved they seemed to have survived in secret.

                                          Lake Saiko with Mt. Fuji at the back

Well, how did Sakana-kun contribute to this discovery? When asked by his old acquaintance, a professor of Kyoto Univ., to draw a picture of kunimasu salmon, he collected some “himemasu”, a kind of sockeye salmon, for the reference of his work.

To his surprise, among them there happened to be species he thought to be kunimasu itself and brought it to the professor to confirm it.

The Emperor, known as a fish researcher, gave credit to him and people involved for the discovery in his statement prior to Emperor’s Birthday conference.

By the way, he once wrote a message to children who were bullying or being bullied on the paper as follows;
“In the world of fish, I find there is bullying. Take “mejina” for example, they are swimming along well enough in the sea but once put into a small water tank, one of them becomes a subject to be left out and attacked. When I move it to another water tank, the bully begins to attack another subject. Likewise while I remove the bully, another bully comes out.
When in junior high school, that kind of thing happened in a small club I belonged to. I had a friend who was being ignored by the club members. I often accompanied him on fishing at the seashore. Just dropping a line together away from school seemed to help him feel relieved.
I think myself to be odd but when I am in nature and absorbed in fish, I forget something unpleasant or depressing. It’s a shame to stay within a small cage, and bully someone or dwell on something that is not nice to think about when it’s time to make good friends. Why don’t you get out and feel a broad sky and the seas.”

My husband has engaged in fish related business for a long time and he would often go abroad to purchase fish. He developed his interest in fish because he liked to “eat” them, though. So I’ve had some attachment to Sakana-kun. I hope he continues to pursue his career to help preserve and reproduce fish resources and play as a lovable role model for children and adults as well.

At the congress with the Emperor at present. Sakana-kun has his own style with a headwear on, which has become a part of him.
(all images in this post are from website)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Winter Fantasy

Since around the turn of the year, it’s been quite cold. In some region, an unexpected heavy snow stranded a lot of cars or people on their way to returning home and I understand an inconvenience and harm it causes us on our daily life. But you know, there’s always a bright side. It also has attracted by providing us with a beautiful piece of scenery.

Mt. Takami (1248m) is not so high mountain but very famous for its beautiful shape and its beautiful frosts on the trees. Actually 樹氷(soft rime) is not a work of art made of snow but white ice that water droplets in fogs form by freezing to the surface of trees usually with strong wind and air temperature under -5゜C.
(I used this picture from here)

Last Sunday, my husband and I went to see it for the first time in two years.

Starting from the entrance of the mountain. We walked up through these Japanese cedar trees.

menacing winter sky

approaching the top of Mt.Takami

Descending down on the north side of the mountain. The strong northwest wind made the characteristic shape of these rimes called “Tails of prawns”. Frosts were extending as long as 30cm to the windward. Strong cold wind blew off the fine ice on the trees and hit us on the face.

Still they really looked like cherry blossoms in full bloom in the mountain. If only there was no wind and those branches of trees shined reflecting sunshine! We had to wait another chance.

The course was 10km in all. It took more time than I had expected. Exhausted but I'm thinking of where I should go next.


Takami Ceder Tree estimated 700 years old
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