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Americans may seem obsessed with animals, with daycare for dogs and TV therapists for cats, not to mention the hours we spend looking at photos of cute critters on the Internet. But it's generally the conventionally adorable ones that get our attention. On a recent trip to Japan I found ample evidence of our two countries' mutual adoration of pets and pandas. But it was a pleasure to immerse myself in a culture that shares my appreciation for more unusual creatures as well.