Cats in Japan – Understanding Japanese Passion for Cats

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While in Brazil dogs dominate Brazilian homes, in Japan cats send. If you know well Japanese culture you must have repaired the passion and obsession of the Japanese for cats.

Just browse the Instagram of some Japanese and find various profiles full of cat photos. In this article we will understand a little of the passion and influence of cats in Japan.

Why do the Japanese love cats?

Japanese love cats because they are cute, clean and easy to maintain as a pet. Having a pet can be laborious in Japan, as many do not have time or live in apartments.

 For most Japanese, having a dog is out of the question. Already a cat can come out much cheaper and easier. Unlike dogs, cats clean themselves, walk around the neighborhood alone, don’t mind being alone all day long and doesn’t bother the owner wanting attention as long as he’s home.

Of course, many other historical and cultural things are involved in the Japanese’ passion for cats. Even kawaii culture of the most prominent to cats than other anime.

To understand more about cats in Japan, we need to know their history in the Japanese archipelago. Another reason is that cats are related to luck in Japan. For Buddhists and Shintoists, cats are represented as sacred and cursed creatures.

Cats in Japan - Understanding Japanese Passion for Cats
Cat coffee in Japan

The history of cats in Japan

Records show that cats in Japan were imported from China and were initially seen as a luxury animal, only for the rich and nobles. Cats were extremely rare in the past, they were not used to hunt rats but as a sign of good luck.

Some developed the idea that having a cat in their shop or trade would bring good fortune or luck, thus creating the famous symbol of maneki-neko. It is not only these days, but since the mid-1800s cats already existed in Japanese works and works of arts. 

In the Edo period (1603-1868), Hiroshige Utagawa and Kuniyoshi Utagawa painted cats, and in the Meiji period (1868-1912), the great novelist Soseki Natsume wrote a novel named “I Am a Cat”, which became a famous masterpiece of Japanese literature.

The importance of the cat in Japan was also related to rats. We all know that Japan plants too much rice, cats were needed to protect rice from rats. 

There are several shrines that worship cats like gods in Japan, today they also exert a lot of influence on Japanese culture. Places that show traces of the relationship between cats and people are scattered all over Japan.

Cats in Japan - Understanding Japanese Passion for Cats

The influence of cats in Japan

Cats gained even more fame in Japan due to the influence of the Japanese media. In addition to the various works of the past, the emergence of Hello Kitty was one of the great impulses for Japanese passion for cats. In Jinbocho/Tokyo, there is even a library/bookstore specializing in cat-related books called Nyankodo.

Cats in Japan - Understanding Japanese Passion for Cats

Another great example of Japanese passion for cats are the neko-cafés scattered throughout Japan that allows people to play with cats while enjoying coffee.

The cat is of great importance even in anime, either as a character or as a reference in cosplayers with cat ears. Not to mention the numerous islands full of cats scattered throughout Japan. Where there are more cats than locals.

On the internet, already in the 90s cats became famous in magazines, blogs, emails and albums on the internet. They became main characters of memes, and had great participation in youtube videos and 4chan posts.

Even today cats continue to be culturally influential and relevant on the internet, there are dozens of social networking pages and videos on media sharing sites like youtube and nico nico douga.

Cats in Japan - Understanding Japanese Passion for Cats

Japanese Bobtail – miIke

The Japanese Bobtail or mike [三毛] is a breed of cat originating in Japan. Its name represents its unique character consisting of three [三] different colors in its fur [毛].

Miike is one of japan’s few famous cat breeds. One of its features is his short, curled ass that quite resembles a stump dog. It can also be born with eyes of different colors.

The cat is perfect for creating at home due to its intelligence, temperament and ability to learn things. He is quiet, faithful, friendly, curious, affectionate and sociable, adapting easily to change.

Cats in Japan - Understanding Japanese Passion for Cats - gato mike animal japones 1

the most famous cats in Japan

In the midst of this story, some cats stood out due to their fame on the internet or in a given location in Japan. Let’s list below these cats that influenced or represented Japan in some way:

  • Nyan Cat – How did this viral come about?
  • Mi-ke – The lucky cat
  • Maru-chan – One of the most famous cats in the world.
  • Nekopan – Used as an avatar in forums;
  • Longcat – One of the oldest cat-related memes on the internet;

I hope you enjoyed this little article! Do you like cats? You think something to add was missing from cats in Japan? We thank you for your comments and shares.

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