Whichever way you cut it, dolphins are big in Japan. Appreciation for the cheesy grinning mammals takes almost every imaginable form.

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Whichever way you cut it, dolphins are big in Japan. Appreciation for the cheesy grinning mammals takes almost every imaginable form. For example, on the weekend before the cinema release of the US documentary The Cove – an exposé of the traditional dolphin massacre in the Pacific village of Taiji – I swam with a pod of wild dolphins in the gorgeous cyan waters of … Tokyo.

The exact site of this sublime experience is Mikurajima, a small volcanic outcrop that’s officially a district of Tokyo, albeit an overnight boat ride south. It’s home to some 130 Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins, who convincingly demonstrate there may be no better salve for those petty urban peeves than to don a snorkel and goggles and have one of them taunt you to dive with it until your ears and lungs begin to pop.

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