Posts Tagged ‘japanese culture’

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Did you know cats around the globe have their very own kitty language? In English they say Meow but in Korean they say Yaong. “Nyan” is supposedly the sound a Japanese cat makes. (Hence the name choice for uber popular Nyan Cat.)

As well as Nyan Cat, Japan is home to Hello Kitty, Doraemon, the lucky “Maneki” cat with its beckoning paw (said to bring in good fortune and wealth – stick it by your door or window!) to name a few. I’ve heard a few things about why the Japanese love this animal so much – probably none of which are true, but I’ll tell ya anyway: supposedly cats were a huge helper in a country big on agricultural farming, chasing away the pesky crop-eating rats. Another theory is cats became a safer option than dogs. This is because  in the Edo Period, each time a criminal was captured they would be tattooed on the forehead. The tattoo strokes were done in such a way that once the criminal was caught and tattooed for the fourth time, they would form the kanji for “dog” – inu. The fifth capture meant the death penalty. The ol’ “five-strikes-and-you’re-out” rule.

Read more about Japanese people and cats here.

You may have gathered by now that I am up for all things animals, especially cats, something I’m glad Japan and I have in common. I’ve picked up a fair few cat “souvenirs” as I keep calling them, or “pointless shit you don’t need” as Chris calls them.

So far I have:

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My lucky calico cat (招き猫 maneki neko) stamp, a “good” stamp to give my students’ homework the cat of approval, my cat coin purse from Kichijoji, and a pencil case that reads hunter.. action.. hungry.. so busy. (I am basically a cat.)

And that’s it!

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..Okay and these cat paper clips.

 

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Aaaand these post-its. (How else am I meant to remember to buy “miruku” for my coffee?)

 

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I found out about a cat fair (!!) through the website timeout.jp (great site for those of you looking for things to do in Japan) and so made my way down to Asakusa to attend “Nekosen 2015“.

 

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It was held in one large room on the 3rd floor of a building; lots of people had set up their stalls. You could buy little collars for your cats, framed photos, stuffed animals, jewellery, key rings.. you name it! Heavenly.

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On the way out I was given this excellent “cat newspaper” with 2 comic strips on it. It’s meant to be read downwards, right to left. So put your finger on the very top row, right hand square, and work your way down, then move to the top row second-to-last square on the right, down, etc. (Seems obvious now, but I spent a good amount of time trying to read it across, left to right as you would a traditional English comic, which is quite a challenge. I just thought it was being all Japanese and quirky.) Here it is for your viewing pleasure:

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If this didn’t fill your daily cat quota, then you can also read about the time I went to a cat cafe here.

I also visited one of Japan’s 11 cat islands (!) and saw.. wait for it.. 7 WHOLE CATS! I don’t know, I seem to have a knack for accidentally choosing all the wrong places. I’m still holding out hope for the rabbit and fox island; the dream is not dead.

Edit: To be clear, the “rabbit island” and the “fox island” are two separate ones – if they were all on the same little chunk of land I suspect this would soon just become an “island”.

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Spot the Kitty

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Beautiful Enoshima

I recommend giving Enoshima a visit; it’s about an hour and a half from Tokyo. On a nice day you can paddle at the beach, eat some of the (very) fresh seafood, and buy some seaside souvenirs as you trek up and around the island.

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Alright I also bought these teeny tiny note papers with cat envelopes. I will stop soon, maybe.

And that brings us to the end of this post, but inevitably not the end of my catventures here in Japan.

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さよならSayonara!

 

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