Santa Diver and Benjamin Button

I love Osaka. It’s full of disturbing characters, such as this fellow below. Well, Japan in general is pretty good at creating disturbing characters. (Read my post featuring  the product of bestiality from Nara).

Hello little children!

Calle and I decided to visit Osaka again because we got ourselves an amazing deal: free transport to, from and around the city and entrance to the gigantic aquarium for only 2,800円. Now for those of you who’ve just gone, “An aquarium, really? How old is this girl?!”, this aquarium has an amazing reputation….because it’s amazing! Let me show you…

For starters, the building itself is worth gaping at:

Osaka Aquarium

Then, once inside, the first thing you walk through is a shark tunnel, I spent ages trying to capture a photo but my timing really wasn’t in tune with the sharks’. Still I managed to take this:

Other cool things:

Underwater party

OK OK, I promised you some characters. Here is Bob, the world’s ugliest fish:

Bob. The world's ugliest fish.

Here is Charles, the sentinel:

Standing guard

And here is “Santa Diver”:

Santa Diver

Yes, that is a guy in a wetsuit in a Santa costume, posing for photos underwater. And here he is about to get taken out by the dolphin, clearly miffed that Santa’s hogging the attention.

Santa Diver gets mugged

I actually commend the Japanese for this crazy idea. It made me smile. However, the following character did not:

Hello little children!

It appears to be an old, ugly man in a baby costume. Japan’s take on Benjamin Button? Oh wait, it’s a metaphor for drugs. Here he is in a mushroom costume.

Mushroom head

And here he is again in a cow costume with an udder on his head. I can’t come up with any witty comments or symbolism for that one. Maybe I need the mushrooms.

Udder head

For those of you familiar with manga/anime One Piece, you’ll know it’s aimed primarily at a youthful audience. By that, I mean it’s definitely watched by kids. In the series, there is a flame-haired female character, called Nami. Here she is with the rest of the crew:

As you can see, she has sizeable boobs – after all, there’s the teenage male audience to please. However, here is the plastic model version. Notice anything different?

Eating ice-cream like a super-cool ice queen

Other characters I got to meet include a seriously creepy panda and the very scary Hattifatteners from my favourite cartoon as a kid, the Moomins!

Boxing panda

The day ended, however, with a poster about the real disturbing characters in Japan. Train perverts (チカン) are a big problem. When I was studying in Tokyo last year, several of my friends got felt up on the trains – one girl was assaulted by the same man twice. Many women are too embarrassed or frightened to confront them. To make matters more problematic, it’s often impossible to tell who it is because train carriages are so crowded. This poster tells girls “Don’t forgive the perverts!”

Don't Forgive the Perverts

Author: Phoebe Amoroso

Phoebe Amoroso is a Tokyo-based reporter, multimedia journalist and storyteller. Hailing from the UK, she moved to Japan in 2014 and has since been shouting about the country to all who will listen. She divides her time between covering breaking news and producing feature stories for TV; writing about everything from business and tech to food and travel; and guiding hungry visitors who want to sample the best of Japanese cuisine. When not working and/or eating, she can often be found running up a mountain or cycling by the sea.

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