Of all the things I expected to see in Japan—kimonos, sushi, and racial homogenity, for example—“brown bears” was not on the list.
But after seeing Hiroshima, we went north to Noboribetsu, a town of hot springs, and there was a bear park 150 meters from our hotel. Or ryokan, as they say.
This bear, doing yoga, was my favorite:
I can’t help anthropomorphizing when I see animals.
In fact, that’s what’s fun about seeing animals.
These lady bears are clearly workout buddies. Here they are stretching:
To get to this bear park, we had to take a quick gondola ride.
Because it was Japan, that little ride cost a little over $30. Per person!
The only way to get through a trip to Japan is to give up and say, “Here, Japan! Take all my money!”
(In case the $30 gondola ride in the middle of nowhere doesn’t prove my point: I took five cab rides in Tokyo and the grand total was $300.)
At least we had pretty views.
When we got down the mountain, I read about the bear park in the Michelin guide.
It said to skip it because of the conditions in which the bears are kept.
I think they were referring to this rather crowded living arrangement:
I don’t think American activists would let anyone get away with this.
I admire that.
Selfishly, it was nice to be so close to so many bears.
I should have a conclusion here….
I was a long way from home.