Cephalopod meeting!

Unfortunately, this event is not on my calendar: the Cephalopod International Advisory Council (CIAC) is meeting 8-14 November in Hakodate, Japan, to discuss recent advances in cephalopod science (pdf). It looks delightful. I’ve always wanted to visit Japan. But alas, all I can do is tell you you should go.


  1. Doug Hudson says

    I’d be worried that the meeting is primarily about new and improved ways to prepare cephalopod’s for dinner. (Same concern if it was held in Italy…)

    Anyone else give up eating octopus and squid after reading Pharyngula?

  2. MHiggo says

    Sunday Afternoon @2

    Everyone should visit Japan! Any reason will suffice!

    Agreed. I don’t know if I’d go as far as Anthony Bourdain, who called visiting Japan a “life-changing experience”, but it’s not all that far off. Japan was the first place I visited abroad, and it gets better each time I go back. I hope PZ has the chance to make the trip someday.

  3. pHred says

    What is it like ? I am tentatively investigating visiting for a completely different conference and would love to hear any traveler info.

  4. magistramarla says

    Japan was also my first country abroad to visit. I had a wonderful time.
    I’m a middle-aged disabled woman. I learned that the Japanese consider any “older” person to be an honored guest, but an older disabled person is a VIP. We traveled on the trains, and when my husband started to push me onto the train in my wheelchair, a white-gloved conductor ran up with a wooden ramp, which he placed over the gap on the entrance and then insisted on “doing the honors” of pushing my chair. He asked where we planned to disembark, and we were met there by another white-gloved conductor.
    Most signs were in both Japanese and English. When we asked for help, people would leave their work immediately to assist us. We often found people who wanted to have a conversation with us just to practice their English.
    The food was phenomenal. I ate sushi and shashimi nearly three times a day. I adored walking through Tokyo’s version of Central Park and the five story pagoda with the surrounding temples and market place was memorable.
    Anyone visiting Japan should spend an evening at a Karaoke bar – wonderful fun, especially after the entire party has had a few drinks. My hubby often wondered why I spent so much time in public restrooms there. Even the ones in the airport, restaurants and malls were exceptionally clean and had programmable potties with which to play! I could program it to play music, warm the seat and act as a bidet. Great fun! Just imagine how quickly such a thing would be vandalized here in the US!
    Japan Airlines also treats disabled customers wonderfully. I was escorted to a seat with extra legroom by a stewardess in a kimono. She kept bringing me sushi, tea and sake and making sure that I was comfortable. A few times, she offered me her arm, saying “You must walk!” and would wait for me while I used the restroom. When the lights were turned down for the night, she brought a warmed blanket and tucked me in. (No, I wasn’t flying first class). I am now totally spoiled for flying on any US carrier – they simply can’t compare.
    I agree that everyone should visit Japan at least once in their lives.

  5. says

    I nth the motion that you should find time in your schedule for this, PZ. You would love Japan, I guarantee it, it’s beautiful country, with beautiful people and lovely food. Even if you never leave Tokyo, it will be a great experience. And if you won’t go for this then when will you go?

  6. Menyambal says

    Lovely food? Have you ever looked down at your plate and seen a whole octopus? It was a baby one, and it was dead, but I was in an airliner and couldn’t jump out the window.

    (It did NOT taste like chicken.)

    Yes, the food is beautiful, and taken damn seriously. I got back here to the US, and pretty much could not stand to eat anything for a while.

  7. Sunday Afternoon says

    @11 magistramarla:

    I have witnessed Japan Railways personnel exactly as you describe. I was already on the train and saw the ramp being put down – I had no idea what was going on until a person in a motorised wheelchair rolled onto the train. I was curious what would happen when they got off, and sure enough – there was a ramp waiting for them at their destination. Coming as I do from the UK and the wonderful experience that was/is British Railways, I was astonished!

    @6 MHiggo:

    I had the benefit of being guided by a Japanese speaker who had lived there on my first visit to Japan. On my second, I was going for work and was more on my own. For me, the experience of wandering, just before lunch, into the basement food court of the department store beside Yokohama station was spectacular.

    The smells,
    the sea of people with barely any space to move,
    not understanding what any signs or voices said,
    being different – 6’4″, blond hair with blue eyes, male, westerner,
    while almost everyone else are short Japanese women,
    my hair brushing the ceiling…
    and THE NOISE from everyone there speaking loudly to be heard over the everyone else.

    Like I said – I found it spectacular.

    I agree with the comments about the food – it is fantastic. One of the best meals I’ve had was being entertained by a customer in a Japanese version of an Italian restaurant. Wow!

  8. longship says

    Wow! I always thought Japan was a special place. But the narratives here certainly make it clear that it is precisely that.

    Thanks. Just wish I could experience it myself.

  9. birgerjohansson says

    Just watch out for their “two million gods”! (book title).
    Also, some dangerous shape-changers. I don’t know if silver will be effective, they come from a different narrative universe.