House of Cats, Fukushima

After standing for an hour and a half in the Shinkansen from Narita to Fukushima City and continuing the trip on a local train, we finally arrived at Izumi district in Fukushima. It was a quiet and peaceful neighborhood with many small cute streets and two-storey houses with perfectly rounded bonsai trees.

Our Airbnb accommodation was just ten minutes walk from the station, although we took a little longer to get there because it was slightly hidden in a backstreet and we could not find the house at first. Our hosts were Satoshi-san and his wife Katsue-san. They also share the house with three energetic cats: Milk, Choco and Chappy. Their house was your typical Japanese style house, with sliding paper doors and tatami mat rooms. While we sat in the living room discussing house rules, the cats came to inspect us. They would walk into the room, sniffing our belongings, not getting too close and then left.

Chappy looking out to the garden.

The more I looked around the house, the more I saw of what the cats were up to. There were claw marks in several places, some almost up to the ceilings, while in the bathroom there were some white paw prints where the cats must have stepped onto some white paint. Then there was our bedroom. One of the cats had jumped through the door and there was a hole the size of a cat in the sliding paper door. Satoshi-san, looking slightly embarrassed with a piece of white plastic board in hand, asked us if we could give him some time to fix the hole.

Since it was late afternoon, we decided to go for a walk to use the rest of the daylight to look around the neighbourhood (here are some photos from the walk

our cosy bedroom.

At night when we got back to the house, the cats were still very active. You could hear them run around the second floor, back and forth like little children. Before long, a cat was meowing in front of our room. It would pace around, call out and with no response, it would leave and come back a few minutes later and repeat the same thing. At one point there was a moment of silence but no sooner was it disrupted by a sudden weird scratching sound. I looked at the paper sliding door and I could see a silhouette of a cat with its pointy ears. The paper was thin enough that the black and white fur pattern was visible. It was Milk. She was probably getting impatient and knew that I was still awake. “Nooo…!” I said. Milk stopped scratching but her paw was still firmly pressed on the paper door. “I can still see your hand”. Funnily enough, as if she understood what I said, she gave up and left.

The next morning we were offered delicious homemade pancakes for breakfast from Satoshi-san’s wife, Katsue-san. We had a quick chat and I found out that a friend of mine had also stayed at Satoshi-san’s house during her trip to Japan a few years ago. What a small world!

the kitchen.

After breakfast I wanted to take a quick shower but the cats had taken over the bathroom. Someone had taken a shower earlier and and all the cats were happily drinking leftover warm water droplets on the bathtub and inside the small plastic container that is used for bathing. I didn’t want to chase them out of the bathroom so I kept waiting until the last cat had finished drinking.

Choco’s drinking was momentarily disrupted with me going into the bathroom.

When it was time for us to leave, as if by instinct, all the cats gathered at the door, hoping to sneak out. Luckily Katsue-san was there to make sure that they didn’t run out through the front door.

Katsue-san and Milk

Although we only spent one night there, it left me with a warm feeling and it was a good start to our Japan trip. Satoshi-san and Katsue-san were both kind and welcoming and all the cats were cute and adorable in their own ways. Even though they were mischievous at times, you could see that both Satoshi-san and Katsue-san really cared for them. It was nice to be in a house where you could see that the pets are truly part of the family.

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