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Sunday, October 16, 2016

Japan’s Seagaia Ocean Dome

I admit that I am not all that interested in swimming as much as I am of ogling behind sunglasses at the beach, so much so that I can’t recall ever having visited a beach.. except for a week in the Bahamas when I was 20-years-old.

I don’t swim, and I don’t need to lie under the sun and get a tan. I do tan, of course - I actually turn a coppery-orange under direct exposure to sunlight.

Anyhow, I found the above photo while surfing—on-line of course.

I wonder if I am typical of most people of India-descent… have you ever heard of the swim team for India? How about a ski team? I think that when it comes to athletics, anything to do with water is a no-go.

I would assume that outside of pushing corpses away whilst wading the Ganges River, no one can picture a brown person doing anything on water in any shape or form. I don’t swim or ski, ergo the same must hold true for the 1.1 billion people of India.

I’m kidding, of course, but it’s almost becoming a stereotype.

When I was in Japan back in 1990-1993, there was a fledgling market for sunglasses. Despite living in a country known as “the land of the rising sun” Japanese people didn’t wear sunglasses, nor did adverse brightness, so it seemed, bother them.

Until I was 17-years-old, I wore photo-grey prescription glasses that were as thick as my index finger… and the lenses were ultra thins… which would explain why I was shy and never dated a woman until I was 22 when I suddenly gained a bit of confidence after being a male model.

No, that wasn’t a typo or a joke. I’ll do a Christian D’or turn for you, if you like.

Anyhow, photo-grey lenses turn darker as more light hits it. As such, when I switched to contact lenses (as thick as  a bottle cap) (kidding), I couldn’t take the bright light. So I wore sunglasses all the time.

I even wore them throughout my last semesters of high school - in class - because as far as the teacher’s knew, I wore glasses that were photo-grey.

I was so cool.

No one noticed of course, but at least I also grew 30 cm (12-inches) taller that year, too. No one knew who I was, and I was still shy from all the psychological abuse obtained in that horror show known as high school.

As such, even now, I wear my sunglasses all the time when I exit a building. I’m pretty sure none of the soccer teams or baseball teams I have coached have ever seen my eyes.

The photo above shows the always good-weather Seagaia Ocean Dome (シーガイアオーシャンドーム, Shīgaia Ōshan Dōmu). You’ll notice that it actually has an English name written and pronounced in katakana English.

Why? I have no clue, except that despite Japan’s self-love, it really does think that English is cool.

As for the name "Seagaia"... there are two options we could look at:
  1. The Gaia hypothesis, also known as Gaia theory or Gaia principle, proposes that organisms interact with their inorganic surroundings on Earth to form a synergistic self-regulating, complex system that helps to maintain and perpetuate the conditions for life on the planet. Man, I love Wikipedia, sometimes.
  2. Gaia, or Mother Earth, was the great goddess of the early Greeks. She represented the Earth and was worshipped as the universal mother. In Greek mythology, she created the Universe and gave birth to both the first race of gods (the Titans) and the first humans.  
If I was a betting man, despite the aspect of the word "sea" alongside "gaia", I would have to say it was named after the Gaia hypothesis... I mean... organisms (aka Japanese sunbathers) interacting (lying round, wading and possibly surfing... I thought Suzuki-san don't surf... but I'm obviously wrong) with inorganic surroundings (pretty much everything in the Seagaia Ocean Dome), helping perpetuate life in Japan (providing a relaxing environ for weary Japanese).

Opened in 1993, the Seagaia Ocean Dome in Miyazaki was the world’s largest indoor water park.

For those of you who have never lived in Japan, the country’s summer is stupid. It is either 37C at 9PM and getting hotter and more humid, or it’s raining and getting hotter and more humid. Oh! And just wait until typhoon season!

It was always cloudy in Ohtawara-shi, Japan, though I fear that may have had something to do with Japan’s unofficial rain god, me - the Ame Otoko (Rain Man). Yeah, definitely me. Definitely. Yeah.

Okay, that’s it for true anecdotes. Let’s get back to the fake beach.

Seagaia Ocean Dome was 300 meters (984.25 feet) long and 100 meters (328.1 feet) wide, and featured a retractable roof, and even when closed on those less-than ideal sunny days, the roof was clear, so you can see whataminute… it wasn't clear! It depicted a clear blue sky even when the real sky outside was grey and dull and dismal.

The temperature inside the facility was kept at a balmy 30C (86F), while the water was at 28C (82.4) - ahh heaven, I would imagine if that’s what you picture heaven to be like and if that’s your idea of an ideal temperature for a fake beach and fake ocean.

Did you see the video - despite the wonderful natural-looking waves, the rocks at the rear of the Dome appear to ejaculate streams of water up into the air. Or maybe it's just part of some puppet theater... because I don't see anyone frolicking in the water.  

And... because a beach, water and roof to keep the world out aren’t enough, inexplicably the Seagaia Ocean Dome came with its own fake volcano, because nothing says family fun quite like seeing a volcano in one’s general vicinity spit out flames every hour with an eruption, though it was active every 15 minutes.

“Yes Okuna-san, it’s a wonderful day. It’s a good thing that the Seagaia Ocean Dome is around to remind us with the volcano that death is always imminent.”

“I agree, but why do you call me, your wife, by our family name?”

I have to admit... the place looks pretty damn impressive... even that volcano looks good.
There’s was also wave generating equipment to make you forget about the fact that you have to go back to work over the next six days putting in those mandatory 72-100 hour workweeks. Almost. Why did you bring work with you to the fake beach? You know someone did.

The beach was made up of perfect crushed white marble sand which was so perfect you’ll forget about that time you walked on that beach made of coral—or was that the night before when you accidentally made like Godzilla and stepped on your kid’s LEGO city?

The great thing about the crushed white marble sand is that even when wet it doesn’t stick all over your body and get into those nasty places for the next several weeks no matter how many baths you take. Screw real sand.

Japan—It’s A Wonderful Rife isn’t sure why this is even there, but apparently the Seagaia Ocean Dome was a part of a resort hotel that also includes tennis courts and golf courses.

What Japanese grown-up is daring to spend time at a resort? There's work to be done back at the office! It’s the busy season - which is apparently all the time!

There’s even a zoo nearby, but who cares? Golf courses!!!!

Surprisingly, it wasn't that expensive. Adults: ¥2,600, kids ¥1,600, kids under 4 were ¥800.  Really? You charged for kids under the age of 4? If you wanted to rent a surfboard, that’s just ¥1,000.

Yup... just Aussies using the surf waves. Good music on the video, though...

Wait… is it the Phoenix Seagaia Resort or the Sheraton Seagaia Resort? Phoenix, I believe is the new name … Aw, who cares.Did I also use the word "was" five paragraph's back?
The fake beach could hold up to 10,000 visitors, but don’t worry if the place is too crowded for your liking.

It actually closed its doors in 2007.

Why? Well, you did notice that when writing about the Ocean Dome, I used the past tense, right?

We (proverbial we) are sure it cost a lot of money to operate, but we suspect that when new ownership became involved, and upgraded the resort and everything else but the Ocean Dome, they realized they could save a lot of money by shutting it down and forcing the people to travel 300 meters further to use the real beach… yes, a real beach with all of that horrible nature and crap.

You can see the real water and beach at the top of the photo at the beginning of this blog.

And the crappy weather. No fake volcanic eruptions, though. So lose-lose.

Andrew Joseph

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