To the final estuaries

For the final stop on our Japanese sampling leg, we ventured to the most populous metropolitan area in the world.

Tokyo was known as Edo (江戸), or estuary, until it became the imperial capital in 1868. An apt location to end our field expedition to many estuarine populations of Gracilaria vermiculophylla in Japan.

We took the opportunity to visit Kawagoe. It’s a little off the beaten path, but according to our Rough Guide, it’s worth the visit. It was a strategically important town for the passage of goods to Edo, hence it’s nickname of Little Edo. Lining Kurazukuri Street are the black two-storey warehouses the merchants had the money to build during its prosperous era.

Kurazukuri Street: The word "kura" means "warehouse." The kurazukuri are clay-walled warehouse-styled buildings that are constructed with an Edo architectural flavor.

Kurazukuri Street: The word “kura” means “warehouse.” The kurazukuri are clay-walled warehouse-styled buildings that are constructed with an Edo architectural flavor.

The bell tower in Kawagoe

The bell tower in Kawagoe

Seiya-san Muryōshuji Kita-in in Kawagoe, Japane

Seiya-san Muryōshuji Kita-in in Kawagoe, Japan

We, then, returned to work in Choshi at a site near the Choshi Marine Station, where we enjoyed the hospitality of Haga-San.

Drying seaweed in Choshi

Drying seaweed in Choshi

 

The field site near the marine station was an amazing cobblestone intertidal zone. Students from the universities nearby test the intermediate disturbance hypothesis here! This was also one of the hardest sites for our ecological survey as there were loads of other species to count and ID!

Before heading south to Futtsu and meeting up again with Nakaoka-San, we stopped over at the Narita-San temple.

Narita-san

Narita-san

Narita-san

Narita-san

Narita-san

Narita-san

Narita-san

Narita-san

Nakaoka-San met us in Kimitsu and had made reservations at a local restaurant known for sardines.

An amazing restaurant specializing in sardines ... thanks to Nakaoka-San!

An amazing restaurant specializing in sardines … thanks to Nakaoka-San!

I’ll admit, I’m not the biggest sardine fan. I was, thus, relieved our hotel was right next to a Lawson and their amazing fried chicken. But, how wrong I was!

We sampled sardines prepared every which way, from sashimi to dried in salt and eaten like chips! But, the pièce de résistance was kinmedai, or golden eye snapper.

A deep sea fish in a broth of saké,sugar and soy sauce

A deep sea fish in a broth of saké,sugar and soy sauce

We went out the next morning with an EarthWatch group helping Nakaoka-San sample seagrasses in Tokyo Bay. At their site, we found no Gracilaria and so ventured to the river nearby Futtsu.

Our final site ...

Our final site …

It was a muddy and slightly smelly end to our Japanese sampling. Thankfully, Haga-San stayed around late on a Friday for us to process our samples at the Choshi Marine Station.

Final algal processing at Chiba Marine Laboratory

Final algal processing

On our obligatory post-sample processing konbini stop, we spotted a temple in Choshi we hadn’t seen from the road in and out of the marine lab.

Mangan-ji Temple in Choshi

Mangan-ji Temple in Choshi

Before flying home to the US, we spent a bit of time wandering through Tokyo and were amazed at how un-city-like it feels … nothing like the frenetic pace of New York City, though we weren’t there in rush hour trying to squeeze into the metro!

Turtles and pandas and bears ... secretly think it's ok to have charismatic macrofaunal bread!

Turtles and pandas and bears … secretly think it’s ok to have charismatic macrofaunal bread!

Musubi: Traditional Furoshiki Store in Harajuku

Musubi: Traditional Furoshiki Store in Harajuku

For every kid of the '90s and who likes marine biology ... Sanrio has a new character!

For every kid of the ’90s who also likes marine biology … Sanrio has a new character, or rather a set of characters from the sea!!!!!

Seaweed in a supermarket

Every supermarket needs a seaweed aisle in my opinion.

Kimono in the Tokyo National Museum

Kimono in the Tokyo National Museum

Tokyo National Museum

Tokyo National Museum

Reflections on the Tokyo Skytree

Reflections on the Tokyo Skytree

Thank you to all of our hosts and everyone who helped us along the way. Not only was our sampling expedition a huge success, we had an opportunity to immerse ourselves in another culture for a month … an priceless experience.

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About Stacy Krueger-Hadfield

I am a marine evolutionary ecologist interested in the impacts of seascapes and complex life cycles on marine population dynamics. I use natural history, manipulative field experiments and population genetic and genomic approaches with algal and invertebrate models in temperate rocky shores,estuaries and the open ocean.
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