Axolotl, aka ウーパールーパー, aka my new pet

So, folks, it happened. I had my mid-first-year-on-JET crisis. But I didn’t run out to buy a red convertible sports car… Nope. My impulse buy was only 8000 yen and it involves a living creature. A very, very weird living creature.

It’s winter. Hokkaido is cold and lonely, and I needed some companionship. My friend Greg returned from his vacation to Korea and asked if I wanted to join him for some shopping and dinner. He needed a new snow shovel, so we headed for Homac, the Japanese equivalent of Walmart.

I contemplated getting one of those badass beetles from the “Japanese Bug Fights” videos on YouTube. I was shocked to find out that they cost over $80 a piece. And worried about what I would do if it escaped…

My first job ever was at an aquarium store. When I was in junior high school, I kept about 4 different aquariums with all different kinds of exotic fish inside. So, I headed for the extensive Homac aquarium section. And that’s where I found him.

I didn’t end up with a fish, although my new pet does live underwater (he’s an aquatic amphibian). His cage was emblazoned with Japanese that translated as “The darling of our store.” How could I resist?

ウーパールーパー became famous in Japan after a series of UFO brand cup ramen television commercials showcased them. All I can say about the commercials is, “Only in Japan…”

He’s currently residing in a 5 gallon mini aquarium until he gets bigger. He is really low maintenance, eating frozen bloodworms (the red stuff in the photo below) that only cost ¥300 (about $3) for a month’s supply.

Coming from the guy who has , at one time or another, had geckos, a hedgehog, pacman frogs, a chinchilla, and a mice-eating killer fish… I figured going different was the only way to go….


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