Cats in Japan: Shisa

by Greg Mayer “Guardian lions” are widespread in East Asia, where each country has its own particular folklore and practice associated with the common tradition. They are especially common on Okinawa, which has its own version, called shisa.  While on mainland Japan guardian lions are associated usually with shrines, on Okinawa they are everywhere, with […]

Cats in Japan: Art and Culture

JAC: Here’s the second installment of Greg’s travelogue about his recent trip to Japan. This one touches a subject dear to our hearts. _______________________ by Greg Mayer Cats are an important element in Japanese culture. In Japan, images of cats, and, in some places, actual cats, are everywhere. While in Kyoto, we saw flyers announcing […]

Are you big in Japan?

Note by JAC: Greg has just returned from two weeks in Japan and will be writing us several posts about his experiences there. This one features soccer, a sport Greg plays. by Greg Mayer Are you big in Japan? Cristiano Ronaldo is, at least as judged by the prominence of his much-larger-than-life visage on the […]

Election day diversions

by Greg Mayer Here in the U.S. it’s election day, and Americans are going to the polls to vote (many have already cast ballots in early voting). To divert you while awaiting the results (we’re expecting them at 3:00 PM Chicago time), here are a couple of items. First, the following photo is of identical […]

An Okinawan thrush and the principles of zoogeography

by Greg Mayer My Okinawan correspondent sends the following photograph of an apparently window-killed bird. I thought immediately, “a thrush”, noting the similarity in bill, body and leg shape to that of the familiar North American Robin (Turdus migratorius). I was also immediately reminded of the justly famous opening passage in Alfred Russel Wallace’s Island […]

A day at the Aquarium, part 2

by Greg Mayer Having emphazised the cartilaginous inhabitants of the  Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium yesterday, let’s go to a distant part of the phylogenetic tree today: manatees. There are three species of manatees (Trichechus), all in the tropical Atlantic or Atlantic drainages; this is either the West Indian (T. manatus) or West African (T. senegalensis) species. […]

A day at the Aquarium

by Greg Mayer My Okinawa correspondents spent Boxing Day at the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium, and sent me a bunch of pictures. The aquarium is a sprawling complex on the coast in northwestern Okinawa, and includes large areas of gardens and park land, and a recreation of traditional Okinawan homes and buildings, as well as the […]