Today was such a great day. Like always, let me start from the beginning. LST has been coming to Taga church for 11 years now. Sugao, the preacher, always has a "Sugao Day". He always takes the team out for the day. Today he picked us all up at the church at 9am. We headed to Mito, which is about 30 minutes away. He took us to this ginormous aquarium! I have never in my life been to an aquarium, let alone a 7 story one! It was amazing. Sugao had a coupon so we all got in for only 1400 yen. Good price. We started walking in, and the tanks were massive. I work at a pet store, and I stare at fish all day, and our place is punny compared to this! When you first walk in, there are these huge circle tanks each with a different breed of fish. Most of them are salt water. They are huge! We got to the aquarium at a little after 10, and the dolphin show had already started. The show is on like the third floor, but in the first floor you can go into this huge room and the entire wall is made of glass. You can see the dolphins up top and when they go to swim under the water, it looks like they are coming right at you. It was awesome! Wow. We watched the dolphins for quite a while, and then started walking again. There is an outdoor exhibit, so we hit that up next. First, there is an area of what the ocean looks like. There are 1 billion (well, maybe not that many) types of seaweed, and they had every single one in the water. There are all these fish and starfish and etc. living in there. From the outside you can see right into it, and from the inside it follows along the entire wall and the whole wall is made of glass. Next, we went to this area with a California Seal. What a majestic creature. He was loud, but super cool. Next, there were none other than penguins!! REAL LIFE PENGUINS! Like a hundred of them. They were the Humboldt penguins and they were so cool. The were all swimming around and having a good ol` time. Hannah, I took a video for you to look at when I see you. Took pics for you as well. Your welcome. By the way, the ocean is like staring you in the face, and the entire aquarium is right there on the ocean. What a beautiful place! It was such a beautiful day today, with finally no rain, and the waves were really kickin' it so there were tons of surfers out. It was pretty cool. We then went back inside and began to look at more exhibits. We walked into this one area and all of a sudden you are surrounded by blue on every side of you. You are walking under this huge tank and there is a diver in there with a camera showing you all these fish. And of course, it is all glass. On the top of the water were 10,000 sardines swimming their little hearts out. There was also this huge sea turtle in there. There were a ton of sting rays, and some were huge! There were lots of sharks in there and a ton of eels. It was so cool. Some of these fish were bigger than the diver. Sugao was with us so he served as our translater. It was very cool. I got a really good picture of the sardines on the top of the water. The diver had the camera and was on the bottom of the tank and showing us this huge sand eel, and all of a sudden this shark took off and grabbed a mouthful of sardines. A few managed to run away, but it scared the diver so bad! It was actually pretty funny. After that, we went into the "deep sea" section. We saw all of these jelly fish, tons of different sizes and breeds. We also got to see illuminated fish. Those were the coolest things I have EVER saw. Their eyes and mouths glow! The tank is dark, and you can see all of these blue lights swimming all over the place. There is a button you can push that turns on a light briefly, and these fish are huge! The lights on them are so small, so you are expecting a small fish, but these guys were like 6 inches long. The fish do not like the light by the way. They go and hide in the rocks when the lights are on. That was the only place that we could not take photos. We then went upstairs, and while on the escaltor, I just happened to look up. What I saw I will never forget. A huge hammer head shark, and a huge other sharks were swimming over my head! WOW! What a scary feeling that was. I cannot remember the names of all the sharks, but whatever kinds of breeds there are, they were all in the tank. I think there was even a juvenile great white in there. A bunch of them had wonds and gashes on their bodies from where they have been fighting. That tank is death waiting to happen. Did you know that sharks have like 6 rows of teeth? Who da thunk? Anyways, I stood there mesmerized for a good while. I took a few pics and got a really good one with a shark swimming by with an open mouth. In that tank there were also these huge devil rays and sting rays. Some of those suckers were so big that I could have curled up and slept on one and been comfortable. I`m telling you, these are huge, and the tank was like the size of like 3 olympic size swimming pools and probablyh even bigger than that. Very deep too. Ouch. Next, there was a smaller tank with smaller sharks in there. The tank was not as big and the sharks were babies, but there were a lot of hammer heads in there. I did not know that the eyes were on the ends of the "hammer". Pretty cool. Then, they had these little bitty tanks full of little bitty baby sharks. They were really cute, and did not look that mean, but still, I probably would have lost a finger or two. Keep going and there are all of these other tanks full of fish and cool stuff. More eels, and even more huge sea turtles. They reminded me of the turtles in "Finding Nemo", and they looked just like that. Pretty cool. We started to move out of there, and in this one tank was this huge octopus. I mean, this guy was huge!!! Literally, like 2 feet long, and probably that tall. Whenever it would spread out, it was beautiful. There were also these huge Snow King Crabs, and they looked delicious, sorry to say! We walked out into this little souvenir and restaurant area and there in one of the glass cases was a huge Great White Shark, stuffed of course. Sugao told us that it was caught about 10 years ago in Hitachi. Can you believe that? This dude was huge, and some guy just went and caught him in the ocean. Pretty cool. I bought a few little things at the souvenir shop, and it was about noon so we all sat down and ate a snack. We then went up to the sixth floor and saw there huge tanks with MORE PENGUINS! These were the Tufted Penguins, you know the kinds with the long yellow eyebrows. The ones that look scary. They were the cutest things. No pictures though. When they dive under the water, their wings look like bat wings. Pretty cool. We then moved on and saw this otter. He was in a talk all by himself and having a blast. We saw an old momma otter that was also in her own tank. She was pretty old and almost solid grey. It was almost 1, so we made our way to the dolphin show. We saw the whole show from under the water last time, and this time we had seats inside the arena. There were two bottle nosed dolphins, one big dolphin (cant remember the kind) and two small fast dolphins. Ok, I always knew dolphins were smart, but these guys were amazing! Wow. The trainers did all these tricks with them and it was so cool. This one dude surfed on the big dolphin, and the two bottle nosed dolphins pushed the other two trainers by their feet with their noses. Pretty cool. Then, the trainers would go down under the water, and the dolphins would go down and fling them out of the water. Pretty cool. Then, a seal came out and did some amazing tricks. I was so busy watching the show that I forgot to take pics. The dolphins came back out and did some more amazing tricks. They can jump so high! The seats were pretty far away from the tank, but still the bottom 4 rows got pretty wet. It was so much fun. By the way, this is all inside, and the back wall is huge glass sheats, so it looks like you are in the ocean. Pretty cool. We then went to the hands on exhibit. There is this huge tank that you can go and stick your hands in there and grab all sorts of things. There are all these types of starfish, sea urchins, crabs, anemones, and all sorts of other things. There are these workers there that make sure you do not hurt the fish, and this lady kept putting all of these things in my hand. It was really cool. The sea urchins were pokey, and when you picked them up they would move in your hands and it was such a cool feeling. What a cool exhibit! It was about 2, so we made our way out of the aquarium. In the car, I told the others that that was my first time to go to an aquarium, and see dolphins, penguins, seals, sharks, etc. How cool is it to say that I got to see all of that stuff in Japan. Tyler and Bryan said San Antonio, Tyrel said California, and Jordan said Japan. Yeah, mine has a nicer ring to it. By the way, I now still know nothing about fish, and learned nothing new about fish, so sorry Bonnett Pet Center. I do, however, know what a shark feels like, know what sound a seal and dolphins make, and got poked by a sea urchin. Not a bad day if I do say so myself.
We were all pretty hungry so Sugao took us to eat lunch. It is this place where you can get bowls. Hang on, let me describe it. I got a beef bowl, loaded with cheese. In it is rice, beef, onions, and cheese. It was so delicious! And very cheap. It was only 420 yen. We then wanted to go and get a few souvenirs so we hit the stores. Mito is the biggest city in Ibaraki prefecture. A prefecture is like a state, and Mito is a town in the prefecture. A huge town. Sugao took me to a sports store and I finally got dad's gift. We then went to this really cool shop that was like 4 stories high. They had these beautiful silk wall hangings, and I bought a very very very pretty one. It is blood red with the picture of a Giesha turning around. Pretty cool. It is 100% silk and was only 1650 yen. Not bad Jordan, not bad. By the way, this one is MINE, no one better try to take it ok? We all walked out of there with some great stuff. We hit up some more shops and we all blew most of our money. I told Tyrel that I am glad we waited to go to Mito on our last week, instead of before because I probably would have spent more money. We are all going Sunday night to see Pirates of the Caribbean, and I am so stoked! I can`t wait. Who-hoo. That, my friends, is another experience worth writing down. Seeing an American movie in Japan. How cool is that? Just say it, it's ok to be jealous. We then went inside this huge mall (we could fit like 4 of our malls in there) and hit up a kimomo shop. I was telling the guys that I have only bought like 2 things for myself this entire trip, and all of these other amazing gifts for others that I have totally forgot to buy things for me. I have bought all of these things for Hannah, and Tyrel stopped me from buying her something more. I had to stop him from buying more for his fiancee. We saved each other quite a bit of money! It was funny. Anyways, it was about 6:30 so we decided to go home. Sugao dropped the guys off at Omika, and took us back to the church. What an amazing day we had. So much fun. Tomorrow is our last party, and it is a Texas Party. It will be a lot of fun. Only 4 more days of reading sessions folks! Wish us luck as we begin to wrap up these lessons. God has blessed me with so much on this trip. I'm sorry this post is so long, so thank you all for hanging in there and reading it all the way through. Thanks so much. Love you all, and continue your prayers!