genki_rocket: (Squirrel!)
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Cat cafés are the kind of thing that I heard about before coming here and didn't really believe. One of those things that I saw on TV or the Internet somewhere and thought "OH, JAPAN! YOU SO CUH-RAZY!"

For those who don't know, a cat café is a place where you pay to sit in a room full of cats and pet them. Or play with them. Or do any other number of adorable things.

When I was in Kyoto for winter break two years ago, my friends and I happened to come across one. At first, I thought it was a pet store until I looked inside and saw a room full of ADORABLE cats. The girl friend that I was with and I got incredibly excited and decided that we should go and see what it was like. My dude friend that was with us shook his head warily and decided to join us later.

When we went in, we paid 1000 yen (about $10) for like twenty minutes, I think? We ordered our drinks and then were led into a room with several yowling cats. The minute that the woman opened the door, she immediately had to push about three cats back with her feet. They were trying to escape.

We took a seat next to the window and waited for our drinks to come. The cats were all over! There must have been about a dozen or so in the small, cozy room that we were in. Gray ones, orange ones, fuzzy ones, shorthaired brown ones, black ones, kittens, old cats - there were all types!

On the table between us lay a large, cute scrapbook that had detailed bios of each cat. I mean...detailed bios! Their age, blood type, favorite food etc. It was expertly decorated and cute-ified out.

We tried to call over some of the cats, but none of them seemed to be having us. Instead, they were laying all around the room pretending that we didn't exist. A few were anxiously waiting by the door for their next chance at escaping.

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Some were up in the rafters, chilling on the wooden beams that ran across the ceiling - safely out of reach of grabby human hands. Some were lounging around the corners of the room while others were semi-interested in us. We successfully played with one for a short time before he got bored and moved on.

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At one point, two of the cats got into a hissing fight. Then one tackled the other and they started wrestling noisily. The front desk person walked in lackadaisically (brushing the waiting cats aside as she entered) and broke them up. She did this by taking one of the cats out of the room and putting him into a kennel in the separate room where we put our coats and shoes.

This didn't stop the remaining cat from trying to pick another fight with a cat who was minding his/her own business on the ceiling. Another noisy scuffle happened not too long after. This time, nobody came to the rescue.

From the other room, we could hear the departed cat yowling sadly from the kennel he was in. The other cats at the door perked their ears up and waited expectantly for the worker to come back. For their chance to escape again.

After our twenty minutes were up, my friend and I left the warmth of the café and made our way back into the bitingly cold winter evening. I think that I pet a cat for a total of maybe 3 minutes. The rest of our time was spent watching the cats lounge around warily.

Neither of us really enjoyed our experience at the cat café, we decided. It was actually a pretty sad experience. The cats who were in there clearly didn't get along. Nor did they really care for human interaction and affection. If anything, I felt more like an intruder in their room. Being pet and picked up and played with and poked day in and day out has to get old after a while, right?

And at night? It pained me to think that they get locked up in kennels only to be released into that room again the next day to do it all over again. I'm fairly certain there were more rooms in the café, but still.

Going into the cat café, I expected to be up to my knees in happy, purring kitties who would jump into my arms and let me pet them and love them. In reality, I was met with a group of oversocialized, grumpy cats who made me feel terrible for encroaching on their territory and bothering them.

I definitely don't see myself going to another one any time soon. Or at all.
genki_rocket: (pic#1294625)
My birthday is June 15th.

In the states, this day usually falls during summer vacation when it's hot and sunny outside. It's been this way all of my life.

In Japan, however, my birthday happens to be right around the time that rainy season starts (at least here in Kyushu). The moisture in the air is ramped up to 'miserable' and you're forced to shift gears from the amazingly mild weather of spring in preparation for the unrelenting monster of summer.

Behind my apartment complex sits a decent-sized rice field. In the spring and summer, it's brilliantly green and beautiful. In late fall and winter, it's harvested, brown and depressingly barren. However in rainy season, it's full of life.

Right now, I'm listening to a massive frog orgy take place outside my apartment. Somewhere in the rice field, hundreds (if not a couple thousand) are fucking their brains out in the water. The cacophony that they make is surprisingly calming. It happens in waves - gradually getting louder and louder and then slowly dying back out again. Then it will be silent for a while until one frog starts it again with a shrill croak.

With rainy season, all kinds of life comes back from winter hibernation. Frogs, snails, lizards and, of course, insects. I've already found a few spiders and a cockroach or two in my apartment. After dealing with them surprinsingly well, I've surrounded the entrances of my place with poison powder to keep out any other unwanted guests (like poisonous centipedes).

Thanks, rainy season!

Inside my apartment, the evidence that rainy season has begun is undeniable. The calligraphy boards that I have stuck to my wall are leaping to their deaths as the humidity renders the sticky putty on the backs of them useless. My posters get crinkly and other unfortunate papers that I have lying around my house begin to dampen. Fruit that I have lying out will go bad in triple the time - bananas? Forget about it. Avocados? Done. It's terrible.

My clothes are impossible to dry without taking them to the laundromat and I have to consistently keep up cleaning my bathroom and shower room for fear of mold growing instantaneously. Even in places you'd never expect (laundry piles, tatami, on the walls), mold can pop up ridiculously fast.

And let's not forget: the rain itself. When I first came to Japan, my fellow ALTs were talking about how much rainy season sucked. "Yeah," one of my friends said. "It literally rains ALL DAY!"

I thought to myself 'wow, that sounds like it DOES suck....but really? All day? No wayyyy."

Having lived here for two years now, let me assure you: in the height of rainy season, it DOES INDEED rain all fucking day.

This is especially unfortunate when the only means of transportation I have is a bicycle. It's an incredibly shitty feeling to be riding your bike in the middle of a pouring rainstorm. Even with a raincoat and pants, you still get soaked. And if not from rainwater, from your own sweat.

On Saturday, it rained so much that there were flood watches in effect (I believe). They made an announcement over the city speakers warning people not to go close to the rivers or the water. The rice field behind my house disappeared for a short time and I found myself living on lake front property.



from this


to this (taken from a different angle, but you get the idea)


So whereas my birthday in the US is hot, sunny and during summer vacation...my birthday in Japan is muggy, rainy and toward the end of the first semester. Unfortunately, this whole thing lasts for about a solid month. It's just something you've got to deal with living here, I think.

During rainy season, I find that since I don't see the sun for long periods of time, I get really bitchy and irritable. I'm definitely not the only one, though. Everyone seems to go through a brief dip of negativity. It's inevitable, I think. My goal this year is to try and get through it as quickly as possible.
genki_rocket: (Default)



{Take the 100 Things challenge!}



I'm going to do 100 things about living in Japan. I think there'll be enough shit for me to talk about!

I plan to write about it here and then crosspost it to LJ :D

よろしくね!

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