Cat Town

Because I came home from Kochi a day early, I had a day left on my JR pass.  Rather than waste it, my sister and I went on trip to Cat Town.

Don't think we mean a town full of cats.  Cat Town (not the real name of the town) is a reference to a town in Murakami's novel, 1Q84.  One of the characters goes to a town in Chiba to visit his father in an old people's home and the town is paralleled to story the character reads. 

In this story, a young guy gets off the train at a strange, deserted town were all the cats come out at night.  He stays there a while and, when he decides to leave, the train no longer stops there and he can't leave. 

Since we went to Tateyama last year, we've wanted to explore more of the Minami-Boso peninsula so thought we'd go to Cat Town (and be very careful about catching the train out again!).  After a quick google search to find out the real name of Cat Town (Chikura), we set off.

First mysterious thing on our trip -- the top of the Sky Tree disappears!

First stop was Kisarazu, setting of my favourite ever drama, Kisarazu Cat's Eye.  Just a quick stop for coffee and to watch shady deals.  Like these two businessmen and a young, yankee looking guy got in a fancy car together then the two businessmen exchanged documents and one of them drove off with him.  That's got to be dodgy, right.  That yankee dude, he's working on the tuna boats off the coast of Russia now.

And, of course, we got bentos!

Good but not as delicious as the one I had on the train to Kochi
 Then we got all worried about bento eating ettiquette.  Which trains is it okay to eat your ekiben on?  Obvs you aren't going to start chowing down on the peak hour Yamanote line but how rural does it have to be?

We solved this dilemma by finding a pair of facing seats, not the ones that run along the side of the train.  Is there are less clumsy way of expressing this?  You know what I mean though, and I'm sure train nerd would know the exact terms.

View along the way. The weather isn't great.
Finally we got to Cat Town.  We thought we'd be disappointed but the place really had a strange vibe.


First stop was the Mermaid Omiyage store.  If you've spent a bit of time in Japan, you'll know that feeling of going into a store and you are like the first Westerner to have ever gone in there.  Well this place it was like we were the first customers of any kind to ever go in. 

The woman was had this look on her face like "OMG customers, what do I do..." and all the boxes of omiyage looked like they'd been sitting there for 20 years.

Apart from a few cars, we saw NOBODY in the town.  Well later we saw a few cab drivers sleeping in their cabs outside the train station but that was about it.

Cat Town didn't have many cats but it had this scary photo.  Look at that cat's eyes.  As soon as you sleep, it will attack.

You can't hunt with guns in Chiba.  Maybe knives are okay?  Maybe other weapons, but leave your guns at home, son.

The beach was really pretty and probably gets quite crowded on weekends in the summer.  Well we saw a picture at the station of the beach being crowded.  Anyway I got to see the Pacific Ocean again and the beach was even clean and litter-free.

 What does this sign mean?  They serve dolphin nabe?  It's an onsen for dolphins?  We were curious but I hate dolphins so we didn't stop to find out.

We decided to take a short cut through the rice paddies back to the station.  Luckily that turned out a lot better than it could have.  It seems about as sensible as going to check out the strange noise in the cellar!

I think this sign is warning you to be careful of old ladies who chew through their handcuffs.  

We wanted to go to the signing dolphin karaoke but were worried that was just a trap to get you to stay in Cat Town until you could NEVER LEAVE.  We didn't fall for that shit and instead waited around the station for half hour for the next train.

We took the train up the other side of the peninsula and stopped at a town that was supposed to specialise in lobster dinners. 

Well, we walked that entire town and we did not find one place that had lobster dinners.  No lobster at all.  It was a complete gyp.  All that happened was that some schoolkid tried to take photos of us so we ran away.

No Lobster town is like the worst town ever.  I was so primed for lobster!

We were also going to go to the famous aquarium - famous because you can sit and watch the fish while eating sushi!  But the train pulled in right on 4.00 pm and the last entrance was at 4.00 so we figured we'd missed out.  Man, tourist atrractions shut early here.

Instead we went back to Chiba and had izakaya food.  We went to the place where we'd had Fuji-san hotpot last year but then decided the fun of a hotpot shaped like Mt Fuji didn't make up for it being full of gizzards and entrails.