As I settled my hover car on the beach a little ways south of the port at Nitoda, I was a little shell-shocked, to say the least. When Xander said he’d sped the craft up ‘a bit’, I was ill-prepared for the reality. Had I just made a 5,000 mile trip, quite literally in the blink of an eye? It took longer to settle myself carefully on this small island of Tashirojima, watching carefully to be sure I didn’t set down on one of its many feline inhabitants than it had taken to travel from Southern California to the sparsely populated Japanese isle.
I had read that the island had little to offer tourists since a tsunami had forced many of the human inhabitants to leave many years earlier, but I came prepared for a stay of a few days. I pulled a pack filled with food and a change of clothes out of my car and walked slowly to the group of red and white striped cabins. Each one had a rather odd shape. The roof was flat in the middle and came to twin peaks which ran half the length of the building. Above the entrance were painted what could only be eyes! On closer inspection, I realized that the cabins were meant to resemble the cats who were so revered here.
Inside the cabin, I hung my pack on a hook next to the door. The room was sparsely furnished with a cabinet on one wall, a small, low table and a tiny kitchen. On closer inspection, the cabinet held bedding which could be pulled out and laid on the floor at night. Turning, I found that I’d left the door open behind me which served as an invitation for a large orange and white tom cat to join me inside. Since he and his brethren were the reason I’d chosen this place for my test drive, I crouched and held out a hand, palm down, for him to sniff.
Next thing I knew, I was sprawled on the floor with a very large, very insistent cat purring and kneading my chest. Clearly, the cats had learned that there was nothing to fear from the small human population, nor from any visitors who ventured into the relatively unspoiled place they called home.
With my self-appointed guide, I left the cabin, carefully closing the door behind me lest anyone else decide to invite themselves in while I was gone. I went off in search of the cat shrine which had reputedly been built after a cat was accidentally crushed by a rock.
Meandering along a well worn path which led towards the center of the island I soon found the shrine. Like the cabins, it was a clapboard building whose roof formed the head of a cat. Yet, aside from the friend I’d made when I first arrived and the occasional rustling bushes, I saw no more of the residents for whom the island got its nickname.
Somewhat disappointed, I picked another trail at random. Glancing at the compass on my wrist, I discovered I was heading northeast and the increasingly pungent odor of fish meant I was nearing the port of Nitoda where fishing was still the primary occupation.
As I neared Nitoda, I began picking up an escort so that, by the time I reached the small town, my feet had disappeared in a sea of cats of all sizes, shapes and colors. While the ones near the shrine had been shy and unwilling to interact with a stranger, those who lived near the city had learned their lesson well: humans meant food and attention, and this was a good thing!
I’m going to end the story here, leaving it open for, perhaps, the next installment of this challenge. As this is my post for the day, I will, as always, close with my gratitudes.
1. I am grateful for things which force me to write even when I am not in the mood. I need to work on acquiring the discipline to write every day, no matter what.
2. I am grateful for busy days even if they don’t go quite as planned.
3. I am grateful for my cats who inspire me, keep me company, love me unconditionally, and occasionally make me worry.
4. I am grateful for my solitude. It forces me to confront my fears, my hopes, my dreams and my direction.
5. I am grateful for abundance: love, time, pleasure, inspiration, motivation, challenges, lessons, friendship, food, peace, harmony, health and prosperity.