Thursday, January 22, 2009

Tokyo Diary (Day 2) Kichijoji

Since the Ghibli Museum post was very long I left out what I did for the rest of the day. After the museum I headed towards town, so I could be near a metro station and also get a bite to eat.

I was walking back along the same path when I saw a bus sign, so I decided to hop on a bus instead of go by foot. My feet were starting to get really sore. Unlike Korea, the signs here for public transit don't always come with an English part. So I didn't really know which bus to take, but I had faith that all buses lead to other major forms of public transit.

Thankfully, the bus I took went into town and dropped us off at Kichijoji. From the looks of it this place was a quaint place with street shops, cafes and restaurants. I started a stroll down the street, not really knowing where I was going or what to do. I just thought I would have a look around.

Cafe Calico: True Japanese Hip Culture Experience

As you know there has been a craze going on around the world of obsessing over cute things. LOL Cats is just one example. And you know that inescapable image of Hello Kitty right? So it would be no surprise to see the Japanese come up with an idea to make a cafe entirely devoted to cats. Fundamentally a cat cafe is a place where you can go and pet and play with cats, while at the same time can order something to drink. The idea and business has been around for almost 2 years now.

I read about this before I came over and wondered if I would find such a place. And now after reading an article about it I am surprised to see that the cat cafe I went to was the premier one. And I even saw the creator of this place there, without even knowing it!!!

Starting up the business was extremely difficult, since out of the 100-odd spaces Fukui viewed, only three were prepared to allow animals on the premises. "I chose this one because it's close to Kichijoji Station and because the landlord likes animals," he said

Check it out!:
That greenish sign is for the cat cafe~

Cats up High~

Cats in boxes~

Cats near manga~ (you could read the comic books...but ya need to know Japanese)
The Protocol:
You would think that entering a cat cafe is a simple thing. However, there was a bit of protocol first before one entered. It wasn't annoying just interesting.
  • Sign up and receive your tag necklace.
  • Take off your shoes and put on slippers.
  • Put your stuff into a locker and hang up your coat.
  • Wash and sanitize your hands.
  • Enter the Cat room.
You get 1 hr to play with the cats (costs 900 ¥) and 15 min past that will cost you more.

Playing with the Cats:
Again you would think that you can just go in play with the cats and pet them. Yes you can do this as there were many cats walking, lounging and sleeping about. But there were other visitors there as well, and it seemed there were unwritten rules.

There were several groups of people there, mostly women. And in the center of the room was one group. As I meandered around petting the cats I came to the middle where this group was. On a large heater-mat were some cats next to them. The cats were mostly asleep and the women in the group were petting them. I sat down next to the cats and started petting them. But after awhile I realized I was getting bad looks from the other women.

Apparently, I was invading their territory and I guess attempting to steal the attention of their cats. So I got up and figured that I should find my own corner and call over some cats.

Fine with me... I took a spot across the room.


Castle of Zzzz

They had many toys you could use to play with the cats, some worked better than others. (The long string one worked the best for me.)

Cat soup anyone?

Thankfully before my time was up I managed to get one cat to play with, which felt really great and stress relieving. But after an hour it was time to say goodbye to these spoiled felines and continue on my way.

On the Lookout for Dinner:

All that intensive cat playing built up a hunger in me, and so I was on the hunt for a meal. This time I needed something meaty to re-energize myself.

On the way I saw a few interesting sites.

A cute shop sign:

Fliers in front of a music store.
I found another place where you pay first at a vending machine and then go eat. This time my meal was going to be cubed beef with rice. It was so gooooood! I guess it was cheap...don't really know what is cheap here. (It was 740 ¥)

An explanation of how this meal was prepared: The black dish above came to me sizzling hot, kind of like when you order fajitas. The cubed beef was raw and so I was instructed to turn them over so to cook them well. (Instructions came in Japanese from the server, so I just made an interpretation of what he sad.) After the beef was finished sizzling you could then eat it with the rice.

Below is a shot of the restaurant. You can kind of see the vending machine inside and towards the left.

I was satisfied with my meal and day so I decided to head back to the subway station to go home.
Subway Shopping:
Anyone who has been to Seoul or lives there knows that you have a lot of shopping options underground in subway stations. It would appear that certain stations in Tokyo are no different.

One particular difference though, I feel, is that Korea's subway shopping typically leans on the very cheap side, while Japan's leans on the moderate or expensive.

Shoppers inside the subway mall~

I found my way to a little grocery store that was selling a lot fresh goods. And apparently a lot of foreign and exotic goods. Take this picture for example, it was a large rack of spices of many varieties. In Korea, you can find spices but at the most only about 10 different ones. Here, I think you could have found the whole gamut of spices.
I picked up a few things at this store, but needed to get on home so to save some cash for the next day.

I would say the best part of Day 2 was the cat cafe and of course the Ghibli Museum.

*Stay tuned for Day 3 (Thursday) where I show a trip to a museum and temple.

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