Love Cats? Then you’ll want to visit “Cat Heaven Island”…

There is an island off of Fukuoka, Japan, where many call it “Cat Heaven Island”. Why? Because it’s full of semi-feral cats.

A Japanese photographer named Fubirai spent 5 years on the island photographing the cats, and turned up with some adorable, and at times, heartwarming shots.

For more photos, see here: Cat Heaven Island Photos

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Wouldn’t this be the perfect place for cat lovers to retire to? You can spend the whole day fishing alongside the cats, surrounded by cats, cats, and more cats. The island looks absolutely beautiful.

Speaking of cats, if I ever choose to have a pet cat (I’m more of  a dog lover though), I’d want to have either a Bengal cat or a Savannah. Both of them are domestic mixed with feral, so they have the temperament of house cat, yet the regal beauty of a wild cat. Meow~

 

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Day 4 afternoon: Otaru Canal

Otaru’s famous attraction, other than the beautiful view from the top of Tengu Mountain, is the Otaru Canal. The city of Otaru faces the Ishikari Bay; historically, Otaru was served as a port and the canal carried many goods. Later on there was talk of destroying the canal, but the villagers thought it helped them a lot so they saved part of it that we still see today. The Victorian style lamps by the canal have become a symbol of the canal itself now, and it’s a very romantic place for couples to visit!

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They also sell delicious soft serve ice cream nearby… Shiroi Koibito flavour! Hokkaido’s famous cookies. Creamy and just sweet enough, it was much better than the milk flavoured one!

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Shiroi Koibito for those who don’t know what it is:

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Hokkaido has many souvenirs to buy, mostly food. There’s also a famous rum raisin butter cookie sandwich from 六花亭, Yubari melon candies, Hokkaido milk candies, and unique caramel flavours such as corn and potato!

Otaru also has many cute shops, most notably their glass workshop and their music box museum, shown below:

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There is a steam clock right outside the museum, and MilkTea noticed that there was an engraving of Vancouver, Canada near the bottom of the clock! Upon closer inspection, we saw the plaque that explained why! Turned out that the clock was made by a horologist from Vancouver, and it was cast from the original wood casting of the Gastown steam clock in Vancouver, Canada! It felt nice to see a little piece of home in a foreign place. :) I have two homes: Vancouver and Taipei. Sometimes I feel like I don’t belong in either place!

Inside the music box museum:

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Delicious cheesecake place in Otaru called LeTAO:

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I got to try a sample of their most famous cheesecake, the double fromage. Delicious and creamy. There were two layers, so two different textures, and double the cheese! MilkTea found a place in Taipei that serves LeTAO! We plan to go there someday.

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Otaru is quite a cute city, and it was too bad that we couldn’t stay there for longer! I think I could’ve spent the whole day there. There was so much I wanted to see, but not enough time!

Day 4 morning: Mount Tengu

So I’ve been procrastinating on updating my Hokkaido trip, but I promise you… I’m almost done!!!

So on Day 4, we headed to Mount Tengu in Otaru. Apparently this place is a must-visit if you go to Hokkaido, because on a clear day, you can see the whole city from the top of the mountain! So, we took the gondola up to the top of the mountain on this fine Sunday, and what did we see… yep, you guessed it, we couldn’t see a thing. The fog covered everything. It was really unfortunate how the weather had to be so horrible on our trip.

I’ll just show you guys pictures from our ride up because at the top, there really was nothing to see.

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I visited Taipei’s maokong gondola this past weekend and I must say that the ride was a lot more fun than Mount Tengu’s gondola. I’ll blog about that in a later post as well!

Day 3 afternoon: Nixe Marine Park

On the afternoon of our third day in Hokkaido, we travelled to the Nixe Marine Park. This park features a European styled castle as its main attraction, complete with a bridge and moat.

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Inside the castle was their aquarium, and I thought the most interesting part about this aquarium was their touch pools. In addition to having the usual animals (sea stars, urchins, cucumbers, etc.), this aquarium also had a stingray and dogfish touch pool, and a horseshoe crab touch pool. I thought horseshoe crabs were supposed to be a protected species?! It was quite neat to get the chance to touch a living fossil though, even though I think those animals probably get quite stressed out.

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The park offers sea lion shows, penguin marches, and dolphin shows. We didn’t feel like watching the sea lion one so we wandered around the aquarium until it was time for the penguin one. We all gathered around outside the aquarium while a trainer walked 5 penguins down the street. There was 1 male, and 4 females following closely behind. The male was so proud and held his head really high! What an adorable sight to see. The penguins walked around waddling and shaking their fat bottoms. Grandma loves penguins and that was her favourite part of the whole day!

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After the penguin march, we watched the dolphin show. The dolphins were really smart and performed numerous tricks like swimming around the tank really fast, hitting a big beach ball with their flippers, and waving “bye bye” with their flippers and fins.

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I think it’s cute when these animals perform, but at the same time it’s also quite sad. They are performing for our pleasure, and they’re kept captive for our entertainment. After taking an animal welfare course back in university, I have mixed feelings about zoos and aquariums. On one hand, it’s more than entertainment now, as there is now educational outreach involved as well. On the other hand, certain animals are captured from the wild, which leads to diminishing populations and a concern in terms of conservation. I just hope that most places have good regulations in place to avoid or minimize the impact of these concerns!

Day 2 evening: Yubari

On the evening of Day 2 we arrived at a hotel in Yubari, a city in Hokkaido famous for their melons. The city is surrounded by mountains. Yubari was founded as a coal mining city, and when all the coal ran out, the people left with it. Their population is roughly at 10,000 now. They then switched to growing melons, and it’s grown all year round, in greenhouses during the fall and winter.

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We had all-you-can-eat Yubari melons for dinner, then after dinner, we decided to go on a little adventure around our hotel to experience night life in Yubari.

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There was no night life to speak of. The place was dead, and it was only 8:30pm. We saw three people on our walk, and they were part of our tour. Otherwise, we didn’t see a living soul on the streets. There were a couple of people working overtime in an office. The whole scene was quite sad. Many staff in the hotel looked like they should have retired a long time ago, and because most of the lights were off in the houses, we guessed that it was mostly older people who lived in them. All the young blood are leaving Yubari for better job prospects in bigger cities. The town will cease to exist soon if things continue the way they do.

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This was an abandoned hospital that we passed by. It felt especially creepy at night.

Feeling Excited

I’m going on a family trip to Hokkaido, Japan tomorrow! I’m finally feeling excited! I’ve been so caught up and stressed out over job hunting and interviews these days that the prospect of going to Japan didn’t sink in yet… Now that I’m packed and ready to go, I am so stoked!!

Today was such a happy day. I’m going to Japan tomorrow, I came across JR’s surprise post which brightened my entire day, and my job interview went well (even though it was the longest interview of my life… 5.5 hours!).

I can’t wait to use my birthday present in Japan! Milktea and CF gave me a surprise belated birthday present – a Polaroid Instax Mini. It’s perfect.

Off to Japan!