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Turtles in Osaka


Who doesn’t enjoy a good old turtle encounter? The way they nom on algae and the soft, sloppy, white bread thrown to them by a muttering old man; the way their heavy shells make their feet plod from side to side; the way their heads bob through the water, could all put a stupid grin on anyone’s face. And, coming from England, where your chances of seeing a turtle outside of a zoo is largely dependant on your friends’ pet preferences, spotting them and then finally realising that they were not in fact statues, was particularly exciting.


I first spotted some turtles in Kyoto among the grounds of Kyo-Mizudera. People with cameras began to circle the tiny pond near the exit of the temple, so naturally I had to see what all the fuss was about. I wasn’t disappointed. Around 5 turtles of slightly varying sizes were scattered around the pond; some swimming, some chomping and some seemingly pretending to be statues. A shimmering grin instantly plastered itself to my face when I saw their little grumpy expressions and wobbly motions. I don’t know why. They just make me smile.


Later, when I encountered them again in Nara, it occurred to me that it was turtle season, but even then I hadn’t quite expected to see them so often. In every pond I saw, there were turtles. Not gangs of them, but a few here are there to bring joy to my day and warmth to my heart.

The best viewing spot I found on my journeys was in a place called Tsurumiryokuchi park. Among its beautiful Spring flowers, mystical shrines, large grassy areas and real life windmill, was an array of creatures all in one place. Turtles, majestic herons and koi fish lived together in perfect harmony, sharing the sloppy bread thrown by the old man and creating the kind of inspiring nature scene you could only find in a documentary.


I couldn’t believe my luck when I saw this abundance of turtles in Osaka, Kyoto and Nara. Something about them is just enchanting. Look out for them in Spring!

Article by Hazel Taylor

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