A Study of Cats at a Cat Café

Lounging

Imagine yourself lounging in an easy chair, trying to relax from a busy day. A curious feline jumps down onto the couch next to you and pads his way toward you purring. Stirring with curiosity, you reach out tentatively. The cat sniffs at your hand and licks it. A smile beams on your face and gently you stroke his head behind the ears. The cat purrs appreciatively and lays down enjoying the tactile sensation. An hour goes by swiftly but all worries slip away with the company of a feline.

~

Cat Walk

Cat cafés are not new. With the perfect ambiance and environment, one could pay for an hour to play, observe, or enjoy a beverage in the company of cats. The first cat café, Cat Flower Garden (貓花園), originated from Taipei, Taiwan in 1998 (see the Taipei Cat Café blog for reviews). This first introduction to Japanese tourists became the fuel that started the trend in Japan. Continue reading

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Travels in Belgium and Arts: Hergé Museum in Louvain-la-Neuve (June 8, 2014)

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In the quiet university town of Louvain-la-Neuve, there hiding is a unique museum dedicated to Hergé and his comic works. It’s a short train ride from Brussels (about 30 minutes) through the countryside.

Upon one’s arrival to Louvain-la-Neuve, one can follow the signs to the Hergé Museum—a quick walk away. As one nears the museum, one can see the montage of Tintin gazing out at sea from The Crab with the Golden Claws adventure. The museum itself is unique; its shape is a reminder of a moored ship. Inside, it is like stepping into the world of Hergé’s characters.

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Who is Hergé? The artist himself was born as Georges Rémi (May 22, 1907-March 3, 1983) and the creator of several works, such as Totor, Jo, Zette, and Jocko and Quick and Flupke.

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Of his many works, the most popular is The Adventures of Tintin. Having grown up with the Tintin television cartoons produced by Ellipse (France) and Nelvana (Canada); and the comics, I became engrossed with the stories of Tintin and his friends. I came to know of each story and character by heart having reread and re-watched them multiple times. Continue reading

Arts: Cupertino Cherry Blossom Festival (Japanese)

Hosted on April 25-26, 2015 in Cupertino, CA

The 32nd annual Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival was hosted this past weekend to celebrate the long-standing friendship with Cupertino’s sister city, Toyokawa, Japan and the Japanese culture. The festival had many cultural displays of the fine, classical arts and live entertainment in the outdoor amphitheater.

Of the cultural displays, visitors have ample opportunity to peruse the many outstanding collections of embroidery, origami, calligraphy, bonsai, ikebana, and kimekomi dolls.

Origami dragon

Origami dragon

Origami (the art of paper folding) dates from the Edo period (1603–1868). It was used for both ceremonial and recreational purposes. In 1797, the first book of written instructions for origami was called Sembazuru Orikata (or “thousand crane folding) by Akisato Rito. The book was an inspiration for Sadako Sasaki from the 1950s who folded 1,000 cranes for world peace.

Bonsai

Bonsai

Bonsai (the art of minature trees and plants) originated from China but is a major aspect of Japanese culture.

Birds of paradise arrangement (ikebana)

Birds of paradise arrangement (ikebana)

The art of ikebana (flower arrangement) has over 500 years of history behind it. Similar to much of Japanese culture, ikebana emphasizes nature and the ability to express beauty and human emotion in a single piece. Often times, it is “like a poem or painting made of flowers” (Ikenobo Ikebana Society).

Tale of Genji dolls (kimekomi dolls)

Tale of Genji dolls (kimekomi dolls)

The kimekomi doll-making technique was created during the Genbun period (1736-1741) in Kyoto at the Kami-Kamo Shrine by Tadashige Takahash. He carved the figures from willow wood and clothed the dolls with leftover fabric from the robes of the Shinto priests. His technique would be passed onto the future generations and further perfected by Mataro Kanabayashi I, whose technique is used today (Mataro doll craft). Continue reading

Seville, Andalucía: Port to the New World

Visited June 22-23, 2011. Seville is located in the Andalucía region of Spain.

Seville, Spain

Seville, Spain

Attraction Checklist:

  • Flamenco Show at El Palacio Andaluz (June 22)
  • La Catedral de Sevilla (also called Catedral y Giralda) (June 23)
  • Corpus Christi Procession (held on a Thursday after Trinity Sunday) (June 23)
  • Plaza Nueva (June 23)
  • Palacio Arzobispal (June 23)
  • Alcázar de Seville (June 23)
  • Plaza de España (June 23)
  • Murallas (June 23)
  • Basílica Macarena (June 23)

June 22, 2011

Monument to Christopher Columbus, Seville, Spain

Monument to Christopher Columbus, Seville, Spain

After a long day’s drive, we arrived in Seville—the capital and largest city of Andalucía and province of Seville— along the Guadalquivir River. Our bus took us through the city past the bull ring and ornately decorated buildings and into the heart of the city. Seville was founded by the Romans who called it “Hispalis” and later taken over by the Moors who called it “Isbilya.” As a result, the city contains evidence of several cultures as noted by the architecture. In the past, Seville was an important port of departure and commercial when the New World was discovered in 1492 and through the 16th century. At this high point of Spanish history, many people from Flanders, France, Italy, and other European countries would pass through this port and further influence the culture, especially during the Renaissance period. During the 17th century, renowned painters, such as Diego Velazquez, Bartolome Esteban, and Juan de Valdes Leal, were born in Seville and whose masterpieces would be inspirational to the rest of the world. Continue reading

Pamplona, Navarre

Visited June 15, 2011. Pamplona is located in the Navarre region.

Attraction Checklist:

  • La Plaza del Toros
  • Hotel de Perla

Pamplona (or Iruña) was founded by the Vascons and later established as a Roman settlement by General Gnaeus Pompey Magnus, who gave the city its name, “Pompaelo” or “Pamplona,” in 75 B.C.E. The city became the capital of the Navarre kingdom when Iñigo Arista became king after fighting the Moors and Visigoths in 824. After the last great king, Sancho III, passed away, the Navarre kingdom began to lose its influence and control over its territory. By the 1500s, Navarre became part of the Spanish kingdom. Continue reading

TRAVEL: Shanghai World Expo 2010

Visited June 12, 2010. The expo opened from May 1 to October 31, 2010.

Netherlands Pavilion

Netherlands Pavilion

“Better City, Better Life” is the theme of China’s World Expo that ran from May 1 to October 31,2010 in Shanghai. Located along both banks of the Huangpu River, the expo site covers 5.28 square km and is an eye-catching sight when one enters Shanghai city. The expo alone hosted pavilions for 250 participating countries and international organizations. Over 73 million visitors have explored the pavilions—the largest attendance in world expo history thus far. Continue reading

ARTS: Tracing the Past, Drawing the Future: Master Ink Painters of 20th Century China

Exhibition ran from February 17 to July 4, 2010

The Cantor Arts Center in Stanford University hosted on March 7, 2010 an exhibition on the traditional Chinese ink paintings by the “Four Great Masters of Ink Painting” of the 20th century: Wu Changshuo (1844-1927), Qi Baishi (1864-1957), Huang Binhong (1865-1955), and Pan Tianshou (1897-1971). This exhibit’s selection shows how Western influence and China’s political turbulence in early 20th century affected artists’ expression since the end of the Qing dynasty in 1911.

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Arts: Literary Event: Shakespeare Festival (Ashland, OR)

Ashland, Oregon (May 16-18)- the least expected place to contain so much literary love amidst a startling landscape and humble community. The proof lies in the shops that dotted the main street with souvenirs honoring the great playwright, Shakespeare, and used books starting from the 1900s at bargains of “3 for $1.00” or “$3.00 a book.” It was simply heartwarming to my literary soul to see so much appreciation for fine arts. The town itself is a pleasant mixture of the old and the new with a wide variety of restaurants from Greek to Thai. Undoubtedly, it is a place set to be explored and to be welcomed.

As for the plays, it is difficult to recall the emotions I have felt while watching them as such emotions are usually evoked at the performance itself. It is with these recollections that I piece together this review and synopsis of these beautiful stage plays.

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