One of the unexpected pleasures of visiting Odaiba was exploring the close-knit community of exotic pet owners on the lawn just across from the artificial beach. We met an enormous Ethiopian turtle and two families of prairie dogs.
I confess that my joy for growing plants does not confer any insight into pet ownership. I personally prefer plants over animals when it comes to extra-species cohabitation. Still, I was amazed at the owners’ love for their pets and also the public spectacle they create. The pets are both extra-human companions and also intermediaries for meeting strangers of all ages.
Arriving at Gardex, the International Garden Expo Tokyo, was a bit of a shock. First, I could not believe how far it was from Tokyo. Past Disney. Past IKEA. Past Costco. Gardex occupied a portion of one of the five mega-halls. The first impression was overwhelming: a hum of electricity and a burst of fluorescent lighting animating a trade show as removed from nature as possible.
The first booth we passed promoted a pesticide company. Spray bottles seemed to float above colorful flowers, a salesperson spoke with much animation into a wireless mic, and lighted towers offered multiples of each product. The photo mural and garish colors seem to contradict the “natural safety” message.
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