April was a busy month. I had a birthday. Spring came. Cherry blossoms were a-plenty. Avengers took over Tokyo. It’s been a busy month all around, and I’m excited to share some of it with you!
We Met Monsters
That picture is from the Kawaii Monster Cafe in Harajuku. The idea behind this bar (it’s not a cafe) is that pop culture is a monster consuming Tokyo. Or something. All you really need to know is that it’s brightly colored and full of weird things, and lots of fun in the most Harajuku way possible. We probably won’t be heading back, but like the Robot Restaurant, it was a lot of fun to do once. And this one had actual food, so… bonus.
SO MANY FUZZIES!
With my husband’s parents visiting, we took a trip to Hiroshima and detoured to the island of Miyajima. Miyajima, like Nara, has deer wandering all over the place. Apparently they used to be pretty chill compared to the Nara deer. This is no longer the case. They drink out of fish ponds (as you can see), eat maps, and actively snatch food out of people’s hands. I love them. They are creatures after my own heart.
The best part is that everywhere, you see signs that say THE DEER ARE WILD ANIMALS. DO NOT TOUCH THEM. KEEP YOUR DISTANCE. And while you’re reading that, you feel something nudging you and you turn to find two deer herding you toward a restaurant.
Of course, no trip to Hiroshima is complete without a visit to Rabbit Island. Rabbit Island is a small island near Hiroshima and since we had the misfortune to visit during the Japanese Golden Week holiday, we had to privilege of standing in line for over two hours to catch the ferry. But it was so worth it.
The island used to be a facility for testing poisonous gas, and elements of that dark history remain in the form of museums and ruins. No one is sure where all the rabbits came from, but the most likely theory is that they escaped the gas testing facility and multiplied, as rabbits are wont to do. The end result is 700 rabbits living happily on an island where people come to feed them and play with them. They are literally everywhere. They will happily climb into your lap to get food and are completely adorable.
Apparently, Tokyo has a Wan Wan Festival. This literally translates to Woof Woof festival. It was in Yoyogi Park, the Tokyo equivalent of Central Park, and people brought their dogs to eat, socialize, and hang out. This guy, as you can see, is very pleased to be in a wagon. People come dressed like their dogs. They cram six Pomeranians into a stroller. They buy dog treats and dog backpacks and dog clothes and dog beds. And for some reason, one guy brought his rabbit on a leash to this field of predators. Bunny seemed cool with it, though.
You can’t really talk about Hiroshima without mentioning what it’s best known for. Unfortunately, this is a bit of a double-edged sword for the people of Hiroshima: they don’t want the tragedy of the atomic bomb forgotten, but they don’t want to be solely known for that tragedy, either. And I don’t think they are, at least not by anyone who’s been there. Hiroshima is a beautiful, fun, bustling metropolis full of great cultural attractions.
But one of those attractions is definitely Peace Park. This was ground zero for the atomic strike on August 8, 1945. Thousands died instantly, with many more dying in the weeks and years to come. The area was completely devastated, and it was rumored that nothing would be able to grow in Hiroshima for seventy years.
Fortunately, as you can see above, this was not true. Hiroshima is a beautiful green city but it bears its scars, and many buildings still have burn marks from the atomic blast. The picture above is of the Sadako memorial. Sadako is famous throughout Japan for popularizing the paper crane. As a young girl dying of leukemia she believed that if she could just fold 1000 paper cranes, she would find healing. She died short of her goal but her spirit and optimism lived on to inspire people around the world.
That’s all for this month! If you want to see some more deer and some photos of cherry blossoms, subscribe to my newsletter (you can also check out the current one here). Just a reminder that Containment will be available soon and you can click here to learn more about that, or here to learn about my current book, Sanctuary. And as always, if you liked this post, please share!