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Giant tortoise walks Tokyo's streets - slowly (video, photos)

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Tortoises are symbols of longevity in Japan, where local myth says they can live for 10,000 years. One Tokyo tortoise has become a local legend as he takes his daily walk through the neighborhood with his owner, a local undertaker.

Bon-chan, a 19 year old male African spurred tortoise weighing about 70 kg (154 pounds), walking with his owner Hisao Mitani (L) on a street in the town of Tsukishima in Tokyo. Bon-chan loves fruit and vegetables and is often offered carrot and cabbage pieces by cheering neighbors when he is out. AFP PHOTO / KAZUHIRO NOGI


Giant tortoise walks Tokyo's streets - slowly

AFP News agency

TOKYO - A huge reptile is on the prowl through Tokyo's streets -- but unlike Godzilla, who stomped across Japan's capital in a blaze of destructive energy, Bon-chan the giant tortoise isn't doing anything very quickly.

The metre- (3-feet-) long African spurred tortoise, which tips the scales at 70 kilogrammes (150 pounds), is a regular sight on the streets of Tokyo's Tsukishima district, as he and owner Hisao Mitani take their snail paced daily walk.

"My wife just fell in love with him when she saw him at a pet shop, so she brought him home," Mitani, who runs a funeral home, told AFP.

That was 20 years ago, when Bon-chan was small enough to fit into the palm of your hand.

"I sort of knew he would become a good size tortoise but did not think he would be this big."

And like Godzilla, Bon-chan can also stop traffic -- though generally it is so motorists can take a look at him, rather than because he has crushed their vehicles. [like Godzilla]

While his fictional forerunner [Godzilla] fed -- in some incarnations -- on nuclear power plants, Bon-chan prefers cabbage and carrots, gently taking them out of the hands of children who rush to greet him.

Feeding time for the giant tortoise who prefers cabbage and carrots (Source: AFP)

The tortoise lives in a pen at Mitani's funeral home, where he greets visitors.

"Some people may say it's absurd to keep such a big tortoise at the entrance of a funeral service. But even in their time of sadness, people smile when they see him, so I don't think it's a bad idea to have him," said the undertaker.

Bon-chan's size -- and the fact that Mitani dresses him in a frilly coat during the chillier months -- have made him quite a celebrity in the neighbourhood.

Tortoises are symbols of longevity in Japan, where local myth says they can live for 10,000 years.

That has rubbed off on his owner, who is known in the area as "kame sennin" ("immortal tortoise man"), although Mitani cheerfully admits he's not likely to be here for eternity.

"I hear this kind of reptile lives for about 80 years, so it's certain that I will go before him," said the 62-year-old.

The giant tortoise and his owner greet neighbours during their daily walks around the neighbourhood (Source: AFP)

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absurd (adj.): completely ridiculous; not logical and sensible - ไร้สาระ, ไร้ความหมาย, ที่ไม่เป็นเหตุเป็นผล

admit : to agree that something is true, especially when you are unhappy, sorry or surprised about it - ยอมรับ

blaze : a large fire that causes a lot of damage - เพลิง

cabbage : a round vegetable with large green, purplish-red or white leaves that can be eaten raw or cooked - กะหล่ำปลี

capital : the most important town or city of a country, usually where the central government operates from - เมืองหลวง

celebrity : someone who is famous, especially in the entertainment business - คนมีชื่อเสียง

certain : sure - แน่ใจ, แน่นอน

cheerfully : in a happy and positive way สดชื่น, ร่าเริง -

chilly (adj.): cool enough to be unpleasant, but not really cold - เย็นชา

crush : to press something so hard that it breaks into very small pieces - กด  บีบอัด

daily (adj.): happening, done or produced every day - แต่ละวัน, ทุกวัน

destructive : causing great damage or harm - ซึ่งเป็นการทำลาย

district (noun): an area of a country, town or province, especially one that has particular features - เขต, อำเภอ, บริเวณ, แขวง

energy : the physical and mental effort that you use to do something - กำลัง, พละกำลัง

entrance : a door, gate, passage, etc. used for entering a room, building or place - ทางเข้า

eternity : a period of time that never ends; a never-ending period of time; for forever -

fictional : describing imaginary people and events, not real ones - บันเทิงคดี, นวนิยาย, เรื่องเล่า

fit : to be the right size; to agree with, match or be suitable for something - พอดี (ขนาด), พอเหมาะ

forerunner : an institution, custom, or thing that existed before a newer but similar thing - ผู้บุกเบิก, ผู้นำทาง

frilly (adj): having a lot of frills (narrow strips of cloth with a lot of folds that is attached to the edge of a dress, curtain, etc. to decorate it) - เต็มไปด้วยจีบขอบ, เต็มไปด้วย

funeral : a ceremony that takes place after someone dies, usually including a religious ceremony - งานศพ

funeral home : a place where the body of a dead person is prepared and kept before the funeral (religious ceremony), and where relatives and friends may go to see it -

generally : true in most cases and situations - โดยทั่วไป, โดยปกติ, ส่วนมาก

gently : carefully, without a lot of force or sudden change in movement - อย่างนุ่มนวล

greet : to say hello to somebody or to welcome them - ต้อนรับ, ทักทาย

huge : very large - ใหญ่โต

immortal : that lives or lasts for ever - ซึ่งเป็นอมตะ, ชั่วนิรันดร์

incarnation : reincarnation, one of many lives that a person or animal lives, according to Buddhism or Hinduism - การกลับชาติ,การเกิดใหม่

local : in or related to the area that you live, or to the particular area that you are talking about - ท้องถิ่น

longevity (noun): having a long life; living a long time - การมีอายุยืน , ช่วงชีวิต

motorist (noun): a person driving a car or other motor vehicle - คนขับรถยนต์, ผู้ขับรถ

myth (noun): an ancient story or set of stories, especially explaining the early history of a group of people or about natural events and facts - นิทานปรัมปรา, ตำนาน

neighbourhood (noun): a particular area of a city or town or other area - ละแวก, ย่าน

pace : the speed at which something happens or is done - อัตรา

palm (noun): the inner surface of the hand between the wrist and the fingers - ฝ่ามือ

pen (noun): a small piece of land surrounded by a fence in which farm animals are kept - คอก, เล้า, บริเวณล้อมรั้วสำหรับเลี้ยงสัตว์

plant : a factory; a factory that produces power or processes chemicals, etc. - โรงงาน

power (noun): energy from electricity - พลังงาน, พลังงานกล,พลัง, กำลัง, แรง

prefer : to like or want more than anyone or anything else - ชอบมากกว่า

prowl : to move quietly and carefully around an area, especially with the intention of committing a crime - เดินด้อมๆ มองๆ

regular (adj): normal; following a pattern, especially with the same time and space in between each thing and the next - ปกติ, เป็นประจำ, เสมอๆ

reptile : any animal that has cold blood and skin covered in scales, and that lays eggs, e.g., snakes, crocodiles, etc. - สัตว์เลื้อยคลาน

rubbed off on : to become part of a person's character, especially in a good way, as a result of something that has happened, an experience, etc. - มีผลดีต่อ

rush : moving or doing something very quickly - การรีบเร่ง

scale (noun): an instrument for weighing people or things - ตราชั่ง, เครื่องชั่ง

sight (verb): to see something - เห็น, มองเห็น

snail : a small soft creature with a hard round shell on its back, that moves very slowly and often eats garden plants. Some types of snail can be eaten. - หอยทาก

snail paced : very slow -

snail’s pace : very slowly -

stomp : to walk, dance, or move with heavy steps - กระทืบ, เหยียบ

symbol : someone or something that represents a particular idea or quality - สัญลักษณ์

tips the scales : weighs... -

tortoise : a large turtle - เต่า

traffic (noun): the number of cars, trucks and other vehicles traveling along a road at one time - การจราจร

undertaker : a person whose job is to prepare the bodies of dead people to be buried or cremated, and to arrange funerals - ผู้จัดการศพ

vehicle : a machine that you travel in or on, especially one with an engine that travels on roads, e.g., a car, bus, van, truck, etc. - ยานพาหนะ

visitor (noun): a person who goes to a place for a short time; a tourist or guest - นักท่องเที่ยว, ผู้มาเยี่ยม, ผู้มาเยือน


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