The 800 year old Great Buddha of Kōtoku-in. The statue was cast in bronze in 1252, weighs 93 tonnes (even though it is hollow) and is 13.4 metres tall.
While a majority atheist country, the old traditions of small ceremonies and making wishes at shrines and temples is still quite common.
I sense problems ahead. On the one hand, I'm pretty sure Lydia supports Japan's pro-cat policy. But can Hayden really tolerate their anti-elephant sentiment?
All aboard the cute plane to Tokyo!
I'm in Tokyo at the moment, for the Japanese Society of Immunology conference next week. I spent my evening wandering around Shinjuku, an area with towering sky-scrapers in the west and chaotic night-life in the east. A fun area, but a little seedy - several times I had elderly ladies try to boss me into a massage parlour, pointing to their girl standing demurely by the door, wearing satin pyjamas and (for some reason) cat ears.
"Look. You look at our lovely girl. Look, look."
"No, that is not quite what I am looking for". Perhaps something more like...
The rules for the Cat Cafe were quite strict. No children under 12, no picking up cats, no waking up a sleeping cat and don't touch Kinako's belly or she'll bite your finger. I changed into slippers and disinfected my hands so I could move into the cafe, which was filled with cats, cat toys and Japanese women cooing.
Some of the visitors clearly had a regular routine, and spent the whole time sitting with "their" cat while reading a book or having a cup of tea:
"But", you tell me, "I'm a busy guy, I don't have time to spend an hour in a Cat Cafe before heading home!". Don't worry, for your express cat needs these guys set up a cat stand at the train station, so you could spend five minutes patting a cat while waiting for your train:
I'm pretty sure this is how all the cats get transported around Tokyo in response to the urgent cat needs of a city of 35 million:
Would you like a few extra cat photos? Okay.
The cats have even taken over the prime role of pigs - the piggie bank.