Friday, June 10, 2016

Ainoshima Cat Island

In September, which is in a little less than three months, I will have only one year left in Japan.

Needless to say, things have gone by quickly. Starting in 2016, I am afraid not many interesting things have occurred. January was still winter holiday, but I spent the majority of my time preparing for a scientific conference that occurred in March. So for the first three months in 2016, I mostly did experimental work in order to get sufficient data to present at the conference.

In late March, I unfortunately had another sickness in which I had to be hospitalized overnight, and it took me a week to recover. Luckily, it was spring-break so I did not have any academic obligations at that point in time. However, financially I could not get work hours during this period, so it was difficult.

April brought about a bit of good luck! I received a six-month scholarship which would cover my monthly cost of rent. While this is nothing substantial, it's still much better than having no scholarship! It was also during this time that I found out that the city of Fukuoka offers day-tours at a very reasonable price.

After talking to some of my fellow lab members we decided to participate in one of the tours for Ainoshima. This island is known as 'Cat Heaven Island' and is home to over 100 cats living on a fishermen's village.

The tour was only available in May, and included a full day planned set, including lunch.

In the morning the tour first visited Munakata Shrine, which is one of the oldest shrines in Kyushu. It is often visited by people who are traveling or who are drivers, as the shrine is for a god of travel. We then enjoyed lunch and went to a glass-blower studio where everyone can paint their own summer glass-wind chime.

We were fortunate enough that the glass-blower's cat had recently had kittens, so it was indeed a day full of cats!

 After a short ferry ride from the mainland to Ainoshima, we were immediately greeted by a variety of cats. Most of them are fairly use to people, but rarely came over to visit you. The only exception was an old tuxedo cat that seemed pretty eager to be petted by his adoring fans.

After a few hours on the island, it was time to head back to the mainland. However, we ended up facing a bit of a problem. The second to the last ferry from Ainoshima had reached capacity for people. Our tour group was unable to return, and the next ferry wasn't for another hour and a half. The tour-guide not wanting our bus driver waiting on the mainland to wait for us managed to track-down a water-taxi for us.

The boat was only large enough for four people to fit inside, so since our tour group was eight people, the tour-guide and my lab members and myself sat on the deck of the boat. While it was a fun experience to ride back on the water-taxi, I was completely soaked by the sea-spray on one-side by the time we reached the shoreline.

Overall, it was a good day! Even though I got wet, it was worth it to see a whole island of cats!