2022 update: A blast from the past. We have been living in our new house for a month, and the three cats the neighbor who died had been feeding, are now visiting us in expectation. It made me think of this post.
At the Waseda University “Wasesai” festival on 4th Nov 2018, Akiko and I visited some club displays in the classrooms, to kill some time before our daughter’s concerts. One interesting one was the “Waseneko” circle. Here’s why it was cool:
The Wasesai festival is a pretty massive and crowded affair, that takes place over a weekend in early Nov each year. It’s an open campus, and you can tour the various halls and classrooms, to see what the University clubs or “circles” do. There are all kinds of clubs, and we saw a few, including:
- the origami club (you did what with a single piece of paper!?)
- the illumination club (um, LED light displays in a darkened room)
- the train club (members visited all over and reported on their train experiences).
- spoiler alert - Japan’s trains are still really, really great.
The origami art was unbelievable, and the stories from the train club were pretty cool too. Did you know that Taiwan has a couple train stations with the same names as the ones in Japan?
Anyway, besides our daughter’s concerts, which were great (Reggae! Funk! Calypso!), and the above circles we saw by just wandering, I liked what the “Waseneko” club does. “Waseneko” is a portmanteau of Waseda and the Japanese word for cat, “neko”. There are some stray cats in the Waseda area, and the idea is to make the strays what we call in Japanese “chiiki neko” or “area cats”, that are taken care of by the residents of an area.
Waseneko circle was founded in 1999, almost 20 years ago, and its ~70 members have a goal of:
An environment and society where people and cats can live together
So Waseneko members collect donations and perform “TNR” (trap, neuter, release), then take care of the area cats, and their living spaces. The hope is, that TNR will help reduce the noise from cats in heat, and sanitation problems.
At the festival, they were selling postcards and other things, so we bought a few (proceeds go to food, the sign said), shown in the picture below. I don’t think the cat is indeed on fire, but it’s a kind of funny aura, if you think of how cats generally are.
There’s too much info on their Japanese web page to summarize, but one page that’s easy to understand if you don’t speak japanese is the “cat map” page. The dark blue dot was “Putin” (!) who has died (RIP) but whose hood was the north gate area.
(Update 2023: looks like the cat map is no longer)
So maybe if you visit the Waseda campus, you might spy “Chacha” or “Gyoza”, who hang out near buildings 1 and 2 respectively.