"Nihon No Neko" (Cats of Japan) >^. _ .^<

Trip Start Sep 09, 2009
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Trip End Oct 21, 2009


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Flag of United States  , Florida
Wednesday, October 28, 2009

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091105

"Nihon No Neko" (Cats of Japan)  >^. _ .^<
by swami_worldtraveler

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PRELUDE:

This blog is for cat-lovers! You know who you are, so read on, my fellow philofeline friends:)...

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INTRO:

Well, it's no secret that I love cats!:) >^. _ .^< And everywhere I go around the world I seek them out... and take photos:) Of course, Japan is no exception. One day I may do a photo essay on "Cats Around the World," but today it's simply, "Cats of Japan"...

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THE JAPANESE LOVE CATS! / MANEKI NEKO:

One thing became clear to me early on: the Japanese people love cats! Maybe this has been so for centuries, but it certainly has been so since the Emperor decreed cats lucky in the mid-1800's - or at least one legend would have us believe.

While traveling down a path, the Emperor heeded a beckoning cat, and by doing so, avoided a trap, and subsequently decreed cats lucky and to be protected and cared for. Whatever the case, cats are considered lucky and wise. This particular cat is known as Maneki Neko ("The Beckoning Cat," or "The Lucky Cat"). And this lovable little character is EVERYWHERE! In recent times it has been employed by businesses to beckon customers in to buy of their wares. There are a wide range of depictions of Maneki Neko. I even saw an enshrined pair enjoying a glass of water next to a wish box. I dropped a yen in, of course:)

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ALLEY CATS:

I saw my share of alley cats. Most were understandably stand-offish. Some where too elusive to get a good shot of. Others "posed" at a distance, cautious in their stance. A special pair in my neighborhood in Osaka became regular friends. They liked to hang around under a scooter, but would come out to see me when I sat down and called. We enjoyed numerous nice little visits:)

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PET STORES:

If you’re not inclined to take in a stray, pedigree cats are available for purchase in pet stores... at considerable cost! I had to do a double take and a double check on my math. The cute fluffy little grey tiger had a price tag of 139,000 yen. At ~90 yen per US dollar that comes out to well over ONE THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS! I love cats, but even I have my limit! Actually, when I thing about it, all the cats I've had have been strays:) Anyhow, there sure were some cutes ones, and I couldn't resist snapping some shots off.

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THE 'CAT CAFE'!:

[Copied below is my entry on this topic from a previous blog]...

The Japanese love their cats! >^. _ .^< Another reason for me to love Japan:) Cats are considered to be good luck in Japan (see article on Maneki Neko, the “Lucky Cat," http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maneki_Neko). Basically, he saved an emperor's life and was decreed lucky and raised to privileged status.

A "cat cafe" is where you go to hang with a bunch of cats:) Think of it as a petting zoo with cats.

My roomie, Rowan, mentioned this Japanese phenomenon and said there was one nearby in Den Den Town. Turns out he's a bit of a cat-lover, too, so we set out together in search of the feline phenom...

So, that's it, a place where you go to hang with cats - for a flea... I mean, a fee.

The support columns in the small room were near ceiling-length scratching/climbing posts. There was a little luxury apartments and even a rooftop, open-air penthouse. One cat was enjoying Perrier dripping from the faucet (well, maybe it was just tap water, but let's not spoil it for him).

My favorite was an aloof tiger-striped cat with black stripes on an off-white background. He looked quite exotic. Rowan tried to pay him on our way out, but this neko was having none of it - collecting money was for the hired help!

After getting our fill of cat lovin', we moseyed out to explore more of Den Den Town...

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HELLO KITTY:

Of course, no blog about Japan and cats would be complete without mention of Hello Kitty. This red bow wearing white feline girl has expanded from a simple vinyl coin purse in 1974 in Japan to an international franchise with huge sales numbers. The adorable character is depicted on numerous products. Beyond that there's a TV series, video games, and even a Hello Kitty theme park! Oh yeah, and most recently, Hello Kitty ROBO... that's right, a robotic Hello Kitty!

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NEKO PHOTO GALLERY:

OK, so I've compiled a collection of cat photos from my time in Japan. In addition to the aforementioned Maneki Neko, alley cats, pet store cats, Cat Cafe cats, and Hello Kitty, there are welcome mat cats, stone sculpture cats, TP dispensing cats, office design cats, refrigerator cats, origami cats, and even "Cats" ("I laughed. I cried. It WAS Cats!:)").
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P.S. Ancient wise saying: "Cats are not always clean, they're just always covered in spit!" :)
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Comments

Sandi on

Those alley cats are beautiful. It looks like someone is taking care of them!

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