The Okhotsk Tokkari Center gets the seal of approval!

If you're headed to Hokkaido and want an off the beaten path experience, the Eastern portion of the prefecture has plenty to do - but with less tourists than many other places in Japan. I was in the region recently, and one of the most enjoyable things I got to do there was visit the Okhotsk Tokkari Center.
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The Okhotsk Tokkari Center are all about seal conservation. If an animal nearby gets trapped in a fishing net, or injured for some reason, they get brought to the center here for rehabilitation before they are released back into the wild.
The bond between the staff and the seals is very obvious as soon as you enter. The seals know a great deal of commands, and if you're lucky you can even get the experience of hand feeding them a fish! I got to do this, and there are three different commands you can do to let them know they're ready to eat - including having them roll over!
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The seals are also incredibly clever when it comes to doing tricks. The staff there showed us the seals catching hoops around their necks, and then we were each able to give it a try ourselves. They really are very impressive creatures!
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I think the most memorable part for me though would have to be when I was able to pat the seal! Several people have asked me since then what the seal feels like - I'd say it feels something like a wet dog!

One of the best parts of visiting here? The adult admission fee is only 200 yen (bargain!) and the proceeds go to helping animal conservation efforts. There are some more details about the facility on their website here - it is in Japanese but Google Translate can assist. It really is a great opportunity to have a unique experience and do something good for the local wildlife at the same time.

Enjoy Japan, and Safe Travels!

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