Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Everybody Loves a Water Buffalo

In Okinawa, the water buffalo is the image character for some of the smaller islands in the Ryukyu chain. Carts pulled by patient water buffalo and managed by sanshin-playing tour conductors are the main attraction on picturesque Taketomi and Yubu islands.

To my surprise, water buffalo are almost invisible on the main island of Okinawa itself. Once upon a time, they were the muscle behind the rice paddies and the sugar mills, but times have changed and they have been replaced by machines.

In a recent visit to Okinawa, I made inquiries about where to see water buffalo. Guess what? I was told the best place to find out details about raising water buffalo is from the Tama Zoological Garden, located in Tokyo.

I can see the trees of the Tama Zoo from my house.

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