Searching For Cats in Setagaya

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Hope you have enjoyed the first couple Japan posts thus far! I’ve been trying to disperse helpful tips amongst the photos and recapping, all the while maintaining transparency and sharing with you even the hiccups. Such as my anxiety about what happened in the subway.

Now. I’ve taken subways all over the world. But, if you’ve ever lived or been in central London you know what it’s like on The Tube during rush hour. I had heard and seen pictures of the underground trains in Japan; how on time they are and clean…and how diabolically crowded they are during rush hour.

I have anxieties about A) feeling or appearing incompetent or dumb B) bothering or offending someone in my own ignorance.

So. When I thought we were in the clear and still too early for the flood of Japanese commuters that would inevitably sardine pack themselves onto the trains, I was met with the surprise that we found ourselves smack dab in the middle of it all. There are officials wearing white gloves whose job is to literally push and smush people onto train cars before the doors close.

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I was shocked. It was shocking. Truly. And I am not one that has a problem with personal space in foreign countries. It’s not America, this is how things work here, I want to assimilate, etc.

Yo, I had to let the first two trains come and go. I couldn’t mentally gear myself up to get on. I was afraid that I’d fight my way on and then in the sea of people my sister would get left behind. I was afraid that we would get shoved to the back and not be able to get off at our stop we needed to transfer lines on. I was afraid I would get in people’s ways. The list goes on. Haha. I don’t know what came over me but for about 5 min I was paralyzed. Fortunately, I unfroze myself, got it together and told Jill “We ARE getting on the next one.”

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Ahhhhh. Sigh of relief after we passed through the belly of the beast (Shibuya and Shinjuku) and started heading out of the city center the trains started emptying out and I could actually snag a seat and breath a little. It was also, no joke, 20 degrees cooler once the hoards of suits got off to go to work. “Sumimasen” about 100 times haha (means ‘excuse me’ or ‘i’m sorry’)

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So my ride or die, tried & true, City Mapper app, failed us. Sent us to a random spot in town and no where near the temple of a thousand cats. I was stressed. My phone was the only one with data so my poor sister had to helplessly deal with the stress exhaling out of my nostrils.

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I sent her to the station master outside of the train stop and had her ask for help with directions. She’d been to Japan before and had a pocketful of phrases I think every visitor should know. He gave her a map with directions. Sick!

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In my impatient haste I assumed this shrine was the one we were looking for. I say haste, because it was recommended to come early as possible as you don’t want a bunch of people crowding your pictures let alone your zen. I digress and apologized later to my sister for being so wound up over something as dumb as not getting tourists in my photos.

*interjected life advice: Be patient. Be forgiving. Be kind. Be flexible. Be in the moment.

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After realizing that the shrine we thought was it was in fact not it (fyi there are literally shrines on shrines on shrines within the span of a few blocks anywhere we went. We asked some preschool teachers with their students all walking in a line holding a rope to point us in the right direction and soon enough we made it :)

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Every shrine or temple we visited had their own unique, almost always wooden, little placards designed uniquely for that place that you can purchase and then write a wish or prayer on and then hang up for it to come true.

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Now behold, several pictures of hella cats.

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Seriously look how tiny some of them are. And all pristinely lined up. And this is Japan so no one is lame and steals them or breaks them! What a concept!

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Am I becoming a cat person…..? Maybe a little more than before but Team Dog still 4 me.

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More wishes and prayers tied to a tree :)

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Even the vending machine on brand.

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Mmmmm. Sweat. Haha.

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This peach soda was fiiiiire. Japan rules the peach game.

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Right as we were leaving a buttload of tourists rolled up. I’m glad we were basically the only ones there when we were and got to have some peaceful, reflective time with a buncha cats.

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I’m actually grateful that we took some wrong turns in Setagaya, because we wouldn’t have been able to stumble across some of the stuff we did. And it ended up being one of my favorite little districts we went to.

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A cute little bar on the left and cafe on the right.

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These smaller towns in Japan are so cool. Love em.

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Bikesncatsnbikesncats. Pretty accurately sums up this area. Probably our first introduction to the massive bike population in Japan. It’s so cool to me that people actively ride bikes. Even some really old people. No wonder some of the oldest people alive are from Japan ;)

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Had to stop at this coffee stand. The owner was right outside with his motorcycle and was really nice.

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A Japanese parking lot.

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Caught the train back into Tokyo cruise the streets of Harajuku and to hang out with some mini Shiba Inus. Stay tuned for those posts next. Thanks for reading!

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sydney baylonComment