Feb 29, 2016

Mukkuru, I Choose You!

Mukkuru, I Choose You! photo

There are two things that disappoint me about living in Nagoya: 

  1. 1.  As a life-long fan of (Japan-based) Nintendo, my American consoles are not compatible with Japanese games… plus I wouldn’t understand what was going on in those games even if I could play them.  (Yokai Watch looks like SO MUCH FUN. *insert silent emotional cry to the heavens at my misfortune*)

  2. 2.  Big city = not so much in the way of wildlife.  Here we have pigeons (idiots of the animal kingdom that do little more than carry disease, IMHO), and crows (unrelenting bullies of the animal kingdom, who are also way too smart to avoid.  They’re like if Skut Farkus had a PhD in ruining your day.)  Also we have cockroaches, street cats, and on a good summer day, cicadas.  But that is the end of the list.  It fits on one hand. BOO.

(I mean, that’s not an exhaustive list of disappointments, but the pros outweigh the cons buy a mile and I’m using this as a introductory point for my blog post so LAY OFF ME, eh?)

I grew up in the States with a strong appreciation for nature - we always had a lush garden in the backyard, and making sure the bird feeders on the porch were full and the bird baths weren’t frozen was never considered an optional item on the to do list.  I volunteered and worked for animal shelters, wild animal rehabilitation centers - and that one summer - a zoo.  I’ve got that whole “accredited dog trainer” notch in my belt.  I have grown accustomed to seeing many critters in my daily life.  

What I’m saying is I need more nature variety in my life here.  

Variety, like what can be found in Pokémon (a Nintendo property.  You see how I brought that all back around?  I know, I’m good.  Just wait, it’s gonna get even better).  I think that the sheer number of different critters is part of the Pokémon series appeal for me.  I got the 1st gen Blue version of the game following an unfortunate high-school bout of appendicitis from a mum who maybe felt guilty after thinking I was faking a stomach ache to get out of church - which quickly legitimized into an emergency appendectomy.   I played the hell out of that game.  Then I got Pokémon Yellow and spent most of the game wishing my Farfetch’d could follow me outside of it’s pokéball like Pikachu did, because my Farfetch’d was a level 98 BAMF.  I traded with friends using that pitiful little link cable, and cursed them out when they’d be jerks and trade me yet ANOTHER level 3 Rattata for a beautiful Sandshrew… though I admit I once named a Magikarp “Bellsprout” and traded it for a Growlithe.  So I’m not saying I’m innocent in all this. 

Hello.  Why yes, I am a 30+ year old adult woman.  ...Ahem.

Somewhere along the line I sort of grew up, which is code for “I couldn’t afford the next-gen hand-held console from Nintendo while in Uni, so by proxy I cannot get the newest Pokemon game.”  Still, walking through any of the “Pokémon Centers” (aka Pokémon branded stores) scattered throughout Japan continues to make my little heart fill will glee.  

Mukkuru, I Choose You! photo

So Pokémon and Critters.  I heart them.  Now that there’s context established, the meat of the post arrives:

Today while sitting in my 11th floor apartment, I heard a bird call.  From VERY near me.  I got stupid excited.  It HAD to be calling from the balcony.  I didn’t want to startle it away before I could see it, so I immediately dropped to the floor and slowly army-crawled across my living room to the window, you know, like a sane human being.  I carefully pulled back the curtain, and there it was: a non-pigeon, non-crow, bird.  And it was making fun little bird noises, and I instantly loved it, and wanted to hold it, and hug it, and squeeze it, and pet it, and I would call it George, and it would be mine forever and ever.  

I laid on my stomach next to Bubba (who had also heard the bird-call and was doing that cool cat-chatter thing that cats do when they see birdsand watched the bird for 10 or so minutes.  Then it casually flew away and I committed it’s markings and call to memory so I could zoom over to google and learn:

Mukkuru, I Choose You! photo

Our visitor was a White-Cheeked Starling.  They often travel in large flocks, and they enjoy persimmons.

  1. Nintendo designed a Pokémon based on this very bird named Starly (or in Japanese, ムックル).  Whereupon I lost my darn mind at my good fortune.

You see where I’m going with this, right?  My only next logical course of action is to figure out how to build a bird-feeder that holds persimmons which will lure the birds back to my balcony, and also I need to figure out where in the Nagoya Pokécenter they’re hiding all their pokéballs.  Gotta catch ‘em all.

How do you feel about nature-watching?  

Have you had any successes in Japan?

And who’s your top 6 Pokémon-battling squad?* 

Tell me in the comments!

today’s little language lesson:


Mukkuru-chan, watashi wa anata o erabimasu

Starly (Mukkuru), I choose you!

*I had Arcanine, Blastoise, Gengar, Dewgong, Dragonair (which I never let evolve because I thought Dragonite looked way too stupid), and of course, my Farfetch'd.  In case you were curious.



The name is Kp or KpMcD (Kristin, actually, but for the sake of continuity let's stick with the nickname, shall we?) Hailing from the Midwest US and living in Nagoya with my husband (The Mister), my dobermutt (Mac) and an elitist marmalade tabby who answers to no one (Bubba).


  • TCWest

    on Feb 29

    Pigeons are actually a pretty amazing amazing bird. Watch the violent takeoff they are capable of performing being the only bird that can flap their wings in such a way where they provide instant lift with one flap. The joy of pigeons http://thebirdman.org/JBryant2.jpg I kept two pigeons on my fifth floor balcony. They would show up on the ledge asking for breakfast. They mate for life and are actually pretty cool to observe. They are cliff dwellers and when the human species showed up and built these neat structures for them like buildings with ledges and bridges for cover, they made themselves right at home. And contrary to public opinion, they don't actually "carry disease" as they've been falsely charged. The Japanese people make the mistake of feeding them which only increase their population. Stop feeding them and they will go away.

  • KpQuePasa

    on Feb 29

    @TCWest That is a fair assessment. A pigeon as a companion animal would be lovely! I would say the same for keeping a domesticated crow. For me, the distaste for pigeons and crows in this instance, is that there isn't... *anything* else, and the sheer numbers of those two populaces (populi? I speak english...) in this city are overwhelming, meaning their footprint on the city (aka pigeon poop, or in the case of crows, never ending caws at all hours and trash strewn about the streets) is also overwhelming. Along with that.. I can't help but wonder if the amount of these two birds in the city has had any hand in stifling other bird varieties from being able to establish themselves. As for feeding the pigeons, I certainly do not. But I live right next to a park and the Ojisans are clockwork in coming to spread bird seed each day, so that's not an escapable fate for me. :) How did you come by your pair of pigeons? Were they wild birds you domesticated? Or pets you let fly free?

  • DaveJpn

    on Mar 1

    Get quite a few pigeons in my 'hood'. They hang out on the other balconies. Never mine. I sometimes feel offended by that. I get a lot of cicadas in summer. I'm super freaked out by them. When they come to die on my balcony I'm almost paralysed with fear. You can never be sure if they've actually died or not. I can't recall having seen much in the way of wildlife in Japan, but to be honest I haven't spent much time in 'nature' since being here. Something which needs to be addressed, I feel.

  • TCWest

    on Mar 1

    When I moved in I noticed them hanging around the balcony and they had tags on their legs. That indicated to me they left the flock and went their own way. The previous resident probably fed them at some point so all I did was extend the invitation to them. They seem a pretty intuitive bird actually. I kept them around for about a year. The female would fly into my fifth floor window off the balcony into my room. She was great company - except when she s**t on the ledge. Then I scolded her. Enjoyed their company when they were around. Now I have a air of pipers. A couple that show up everyday. The male has a partially missing foot. I can call them in very close and give them sesame to chow down on. Very neat birds who sing at me in the morning waiting for grub.