Today was a momentous day. Not only did I recover my Uniqlo shopping, which I'd left on a bus on Monday, from the Lost and Found Office, but I also visited two new cat cafes, bringing my grand total up to five!
These two places are just a few minutes walk apart in distance, but worlds apart in experience. Read on for copious pictures of cats.
Neko Jelala Cat Cafe
I admit I didn't take as many photos here as in the other one, but that was mostly because this place was pretty bleh. There were some lovely cats with their own personalities, but the place was just the one room and while the cats were all in excellent condition they didn't have as much room to roam about as I've seen in the other places I've been.
This guy is (I think) an Abyssinian, so had a kind of ruff around his/her neck.
She was asleep in the car bed when I arrived but I spotted her waking up and then my camera strap did the rest.
Beautiful green eyes! Then there were the sofa residents. The one on the left is a curl eared cat and there was a note saying he was the friendliest and most easy going of cats.
I swear he didn't move a muscle the whole time I was there although I did hear him purring when I stroked him for a few minutes. Japanese cats don't seem to purr as much as English ones. The one on the right was long haired and loved having his/her fur stroked all along her body. When she looked up to see why I'd stopped I found she also had lovely green eyes.
There were a number of other residents...this first one got up and walked across the room and I swear she/he was the same size as your average dog. Huge!
...but it just didn't compare to my preferred Nyafe Melange in Ebisu.
Cat Cafe Nanny
Now you're talking - this place was awesome.
One of my two criticisms is that it was on the 4th floor (3rd floor in english lingo) and there was no lift. Not exactly a killer but, you know. As soon as I walked in this little guy woke up and started waving his paws at me.
When I lent in to stroke him he started licking my fingers then wanted to play. He was one of three clearly quite young cats who were very sweet and playful, but then so were the older residents. I had an explore before settling down to play and this was one of the two upstairs rooms.
There were only two cats on this whole floor and the first was adorable, and very happy to be stroked.
Then the second meandered towards me. It was a tiny lion!
I know she's just had a summer haircut...but...it's a tiny lion! Again my camera strap proved irresistible.
Do you not just want to hug her and stroke her and call her Bert? Awesome.
Back downstairs, the young trio, two of which were definitely from the same litter, were at play.
They didn't stay still often, and I never managed to get all three of them in shot.
One of them decided something was hiding under my maxi skirt.
They were adorable and so playful! They reminded me of Nickerjac's little boy who is also highly energetic! Again, the camera strap was the attraction and one of the older cats, who was very beautiful but not keen on being stroked, joined in.
There were other residents:
Check out these eyebrows:
The little cats were clearly fully accepted by the older ones and loved cuddling up to them. These two were particularly snug.
As were these two:
The grey cat being used as a pillow was beautiful. She loved having her chest stroked and used her paws to hold my hand there.
She was so blissed out she was hanging half off the table. Hard to believe she was really comfortable! I spent most of my time sitting at the table she was laying on and stroking her and the little one.
The things that made this cafe my absolute favourite was the space, the daylight, the sleeping options for the cats and the attitude of the cats to me. Sometimes you get the feeling you are bothering the cats and that's a definite no-no. Here they were actually pleased to see me and wanted to interact, and when they'd had enough there were plenty of places for them to go off to.
I said at the start that I had two complaints and only gave one - my second is that they told me at the start when my 'hour' started but you know I never remember that kind of thing so I accidentally overstayed by 5 minutes but got charged for an extra 30 mins because that's the way the charging goes. My bad, but at Shirokane and Ebisu they give you your start time in your lanyard so no-memories like me can work out when they need to go.
Will I be coming back to Akihabara for cat action? Yes! But only to the second place. Cat Cafe Nanny is about 40 mins door to door whereas Nyafe Melange is about 15 mins walk to that still wins for convenience and, of course, for Bruiser...
...but when I fancy more of an excursion I'll be coming back here again.
Have you heard of these dolls? They tend to be a bit like marmite - for non-british readers that means you either love or hate them. Here are just a few photos of Flickr of some. Lots more here.
Meanwhile on Etsy you can imagine all the accessories and actual dolls you can buy. I just saw a doll on there for £850. People take these things really seriously.
Personally I am not bothered by them. I can admire the artistry without wanting to get involved. That doesn't mean I wasn't intrigued though when I saw giant ones in a shop window in central Tokyo.
They were there to advertise Bottega Veneta handbags so the only items of relevance to the advertising part of this were the bags the dolls are holding.
As a spectacle though, you'd have to agree it is very eye catching.
There were a lot of excited, young, japanese women taking photos.
The shop was the Isetan in Shinjuku (the equivalent of London's Selfridges), the same one I mentioned in my last window display post. Meanwhile, in the slightly more downmarket Uniqlo, there were these:
These furry guys were in the middle of the shop with their own tie-in t-shirt display for a new film which was being trailed on the monitors.
Naturally I have no idea what the film is but if these guys are anything to go by it is possibly my kind of thing!
I had long wanted to try this so when I saw it as an activity on Meet-up.com I was all in. I met a group of 16 others in Asakusa and the organiser took us along many back streets until we arrived at Wanariya - which I have since found has a really good english website. It was a bit like the 'paint your own pottery' places I've been to in London where you choose an item, decorate it and then they bake it for you. Here we could choose from t-shirts, bags or simple cloths and there were lots of examples around to inspire you.
I chose a rectangular cloth. We had a little lecture in english and japanese to start all about the history of indigo and its manufacture and then we were off. The teacher was suitably dressed with encouragingly blue tinted hands.
I was quite disappointed that we could only try the tie-dye technique since that was a bit 1988 for me but, as they say over here, "comme ci, comme ca".
My cloth ended up looking like an unpainted lab model of an STD.
In retrospect this wasn't a great idea as I was just going to end up with big white splodges, but I was mainly in it for the dye so didn't think about it at the time. We were kitted out with plastic shoe protectors, smocks, clear plastic gloves and then blue elbow length gloves over those.
Basically - that dye wasn't going anywhere near your person unless you went in head first. The vats were capable of taking a whole person since they were these metal oil drums. So much liquid!
You only need 60 seconds in one to get the full colour so the deed was done and then you get it out, squeeze out the excess and wait for the blue to arrive.
You can see in the photo above that mine, at the top, was already dark blue while the green one at the bottom was only just out of the vat so not yet developed. It was pretty cool to watch it change. More rinsing and a quick spin...
...and it was time to try and get those elastic bands off.
And this is how they all turned out.
Pretty cool huh? See me - just to the right of centre holding my white blobby cloth? Ah well, lesson learnt.
The eagle eyed among you will have noticed the looms in the background of the teacher photo.
Turns out this place does traditional weaving too and so while I was there I booked in for a weaving lesson. Only the most basic one - making two coasters - but I've always wanted to try so am very excited!