Field of Science

Moss at the Kannon Nature Museum

We had a home stay with a Japanese family this past weekend. The family lived in the city of Yokosuka, south of Tokyo. Since the other graduate student and I staying with the same family were both biologists they took us to a local park near their home and to a nature museum.

The park was very nice. We saw a variety of animals: koi, turtles, dragonflies, white-eyed warbler, and a variety of other cool insects. My favorite were these shiny little insects!

There were a number of mosses hiding under bushes and between blades of grass. However as we were walking along my host mother translated one of the signs on the side of the path and it read dangerous snake. I am not a fan of snakes, especially the dangerous kind. Hence there is no picture of the mosses from the park, because after reading that sign I stopped poking around in the brush and stuck to the path.

After visiting the park we were off to the Kannon Nature Museum it sit directly on the coast of Tokyo Bay. The day we visited it was quite foggy over the bay obscuring our view. The museum itself was fantastic and much more than I expected. They had vases full of a large number of native plants that were collected from the area and on display. Of course being near the ocean there were all manner of pickled sea creatures, including fish, mollusks, urchins and octopus.

Unfortunately the most poorly curated display was that of the mosses and ferns. There was a small shelf, pictured here that had about six different types of ferns. Most of them were labeled with their Japanese names and some with their scientific names. However the poor lonely mosses on the bottom shelf did not have any labels at all. Poor things. The two containers on the end are filled with Polytrichum and the middle container has some Dicranum and Polytrichum. I know that I saw more types of mosses in the area than just these two. What happened? No love for the mosses?

I do not have a key or guide to the mosses of Japan, so I am not sure what species in particular they had on display. Many species of moss have world wide distributions, so these could be the same species as those we have in Connecticut.

My plan is to talk to the researchers here in Dr. Hasebe's Lab to find out if they know of an English guide to the mosses. I learned a little Japanese before coming, but I do not think that it is nearly enough to use a field guide.

I am off to explore the town of Okazaki this weekend. As of now my main transportation is on foot, but I have a map and I might give the bus system a try. I really wish that I brought my GPS unit or a compass just in case I get lost. Wish me luck!

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