Favourite Animal Encounters in Japan!
1. Capybara At Nagasaki Bio Park - if you know my capybara inspired cushions and brooches already you'll know how much I love these beautiful quietly magical creatures! We went to Nagasaki Bio Park where we were free to roam around with the animals in their loose enclosures. I guess this works in Japan as the Japanese are so respectful. That wasn't a two way street with the monkeys who tried to steal Gary's glasses and pick our pockets :D. Another vivid memory there was of a beautiful black bat, upside down seemingly held up by a giant black and white butterfly perched on it's feet whilst it cleaned it's wings like a cat cleans it's paws. Ah it was the stuff of strange delicate dreams!
2. Nara Deer Park - Buy some deer crackers from a local vendor and the deer will poke their stiletto heels through your pumps, nuzzle your belly, eat your map and then politely bow as you hand them a cracker. A wonderful experience the first time we went. The second time was crazy touristy so go early! These sacred creatures are pure magic and one feels blessed to have met them in quieter times. And if in Nara do explore further than the usual haunts of the deer park and temple, the shopping area had some fab quirky shops selling cat themed art and design and all sorts of delights for the kitsch and the curious!
3. Shinjuku Cats - One of my favourite Tokyo moments was turning the corner in Shinkjuku to this vision of kitty floofs! Apparently the guy who pushes them around is well known and I was told that he simply loves to show off his kitties all of whom seemed happy and relaxed, too much catnip?
Another similar experience of the feline kind was when we had just arrived in Tokyo. We were walking up to our hostel in Asakusa, where the traditional collides with the contemporary to make an exciting vibrant underbelly within Tokyo. With our fuzzy jet lagged heads we walked past beautiful ladies beckoning with trays of mochi, busy salarymen, traditionally dressed locals and finally... appearing through the crowd... a pushchair sweeps past, a bright yellow cat stood on top of the hood, chest floofed and best foot first like a gladiator going to war.... with an orange lion hat on to make it clear that he was the KING! Ah Tokyo, we had landed, excited for another adventure.
4. Takamatsu Boardwalk - When we stayed in Takamatsu on Shikoku we made sure we got to the boardwalk every evening just in time for the sunset. I recommend you get a beer (or any other drink of your choice!) from 7/11 on the way and make time for the magic of the sun gently easing itself into the the Seto Inland Sea behind it's many islands. One evening we met Mei the Rabbit on the way, Mei's owner was lovely and told us that Mei liked to do the same every evening too. (without the beer perhaps). Ever since then I have dreamed of one day walking my bunny at sunset, both of us in our matching frilly dresses.
5. Tashirojima - Cat Island - also known as Manga Island. I wasn't going to include this one because actually as far as live cats go it wasn't as cat filled as I had expected! But the island itself is so very beautiful I have included it, there are also cat shaped houses you can stay in. Let me know if you manage it, we tried as hard as we could to book one but communication problems made it impossible. They however inspired my dream cat cabin for the garden. I've had to compromise on the design and it's really just a cabin with ears. I will show you more when it arrives in April!
This was actually on the walk to the boat to go to cat island, hence how excited I am on route!
You can stay in these cabins if you can manage to book it! Aren't they fab!
The island itself is so very beautiful, having my onigiri lunch on a rock looking out across the ocean was pretty damn special.
The roadworks signs in Japan are the BEST and always highly appropriate! :D
6. Ōkunoshima - Bunny Island - A beautiful and desolate feeling island, the bunnies will give you so much love. It looks and feels like a fairytale when you step off the boat to be surrounded by these beautiful creatures. I read up on it and couldn't find animal welfare issues before we went, which was quite a few years ago. But I have since read more articles as it's grown in popularity and it's clear that often the reason they may swarm is because they are so very hungry. It's feast or famine for them, and no doubt the pandemic has been difficult with few visitors. I hear there are far fewer rabbits now because of it (and many may have gone to higher ground on the island with few visitors on the beaches) but reports say this is at least a good time to have a rethink and to reconsider what is best for the island and it's inhabitants. So if you're thinking of going, be sure to do some research to see how it is at that point.