Before reaching the "dangerous cliffs" of To no Hetsuri we passed through a rustic, charming area filled with a restaurant and small shops featuring local foods and crafts.
I was very pleased to see a kokeshi maker displaying his work. It had not been easy to find kokeshi on our trip, even though we were traveling in Kokeshi Central, the Tohoku region.
I learned that it was difficult, and in some cases, impossible to reach the many onsens and their representative kokeshi without a car to drive. The trains can only go so far, and it was risky for us to ride a bus with an irregular timetable. Seeing the kokeshi here was akin to seeing it in its natural environment, and I was happy. I chose four kokeshi.
While the artist carefully wrapped each kokeshi I noticed a cat picture taped above a box. Inside were some petite bundles of sticks. The sign atop read "matatabi" and it indicated that cats love 'em. For 100 yen I thought it was probably worth it, so I chose a set.
When we returned to our home in the States we approached each of our cats individually. We made sure nobody was hungry, too sleepy, or fighting with one another before we presented the potential magic. Results: One out of six American cats loves matatabi, also known as silver vine or cat powder.
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