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Kagoshima: Rare ‘Baby Dragon’ Farm Attracts Visitors Ahead of Year of Dragon

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Seahorses are seen in a tank at an aquaculture farm in Minami-Kyushu, Kagoshima Prefecture.

MINAMI-KYUSHU, Kagoshima — A seahorse aquaculture farm in Minami-Kyushu, Kagoshima Prefecture, is attracting tourists ahead of the Year of the Dragon because the Japanese word for seahorse is “tatsu no otoshigo,” which means “spawned baby dragon.”

Seahorses are also known for their unique ecology in which the female lays her eggs in a pouch on the male’s abdomen, and the male incubates and protects the embryo.

Shin Kato, 52, from Saitama Prefecture, who was drawn to these creatures, opened the farm, Seahorse House, in 2010 and ships them to aquariums and pet stores.

This type of business is unique in the country. The farm keeps more than 10,000 seahorses of four species for display and sale. Recently, people have been visiting the facility one after another to take pictures for next year’s New Year cards.

It is free to tour the facility. The most popular seahorse for purchase is between 10 to 18 centimeters in length and costs between ¥5,000 and ¥7,000.

“Seahorses are delicate creatures, and their numbers are decreasing due to overfishing. I hope that next year’s Chinese zodiac sign will spark interest in them,” Kato said.