|Sleeping Cat Flickr / rahen z|
Girls that are cats or girls that dress up like cats are a pretty common theme in Japanese pop culture. They are also popular in cosplay where real people dress up and have cat-like characteristics such as cat ears and tails and exhibit cat-like traits (e.g. see the paw gesture below).
|Cat Girl Wikipe-tan Wikimedia Commons.|
|All-purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku Flickr / Selva|
The Maneki-neko (literally "Beckoning Cat); also known as Welcoming Cat, Lucky Cat, Money Cat, or Fortune Cat) is a common Japanese figurine (lucky charm, talisman), usually made of ceramic, which is believed to bring good luck to the owner. The origin myths behind this cat are pretty interesting. This cat is usually displayed in shops, restaurants, pachinko parlors, and other businesses.
|Lucky Cat (right paw up brings good luck and wealth)|
There are two famous islands involving cats in Japan. One is a tropical rainforest island that has a large national park and the second is famous for its many cats that are everywhere bringing good fortune.
Iriomote is one of the Okinawan islands. It is the largest of the Yaeyama Islands and the second largest in Okinawa Prefecture after Okinawa Island itself. The total population is less than 2,000 and a single coastal road connecting the hamlets on the northern and eastern shores. The island does not have an airstrip, and most visitors—over 150,000 in 2003—arrive from Ishigaki by ferry. Iriomote belongs to tropical rainforest climate and 90% of the island is covered by dense jungle and mangrove swamps. Over a third of the island forms the Iriomote National Park.
The island is famed for the Iriomote Cat, a Critically Endangered wild cat found only on Iriomote. The population size is estimated to be fewer than 250 adult individuals. In Japanese the cat is called 西表山猫 Iriomote-yamaneko. The manga and anime Azumanga Daioh made the little wild cat famous (to me at any rate!).
|Stuffed Yama Neko at museum there (sad...) Flickr / jamesfarnham|
|Cat Flickr / rahen z|
|Cat Shrine on Tashirojima Flickr / rahen z|
There are also cat cafes where Japanese people who cannot own pets or do not have the time to take care of them can unwind after a long day. They can have some refreshment and play or cuddle a cat before they head home. There are also bunny cafes (of the rodent variety) but that would be for another day.
|Nyan da Cafe entrance is very cute! See map below for location in Odaiba. Flickr / Acetonic|
- Nyan da Cafe article for cafe in Odaiba at the Decks, Tokyo
- Cat Cafe Video. http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/video/2012/feb/03/tokyo-cat-cafe-video
There is a the Neko Ramen gag manga about a cat who is a ramen chef. Some of it is funny but some of it is just strange. You also get cat hair in your soup. The Ramen Museum in Yokohama used him as a mascot too.
|Neko Ramen merchandise. Tostzilla.|
The character string above says it all in e-mails and texts. It represents a front view of a sleeping cat with its head and eyes down on its paws. The posture of a sleeping cat like this also look like a deep bow for someone who is seriously being sorry. In Japanese they call it "gomen ne."
Everyone knows who Hello Kitty is, right? Who doesn't know Japan's most famous cat icon from Sanrio?
|Lots of Hello Kitty|
In 2005 all stations on the Kishigawa Line went from manned to unmanned in an effort to cut costs. Station masters were selected from employees of local businesses near each station. For Kishi station, Toshiko Koyama, the neighborhood grocer, was selected as station master. Koyama had adopted Tama and other stray cats, and she fed them at the station. In January 2007, railway officials decided to officially name Tama the station master. As station master her primary duty is to greet passengers. The position comes with a stationmaster's hat and the railway provides Tama with free cat food instead of a salary. Tourists flocked to see this official cat! While the original Tama has passed on in an impressive Shinto ceremony, a successor was groomed and has assumed the duties of station master.
|Sleeping Tama Flickr / woofiegrrl|
Other Tokyo Excess Japanese Pop Culture Links
- Cup Noodles - Nissin Pop Culture
- Kaiju (Monster-sized) Burgers
- Pocky Pop Culture
- Coffee Please, Not Tea - Tokyo Coffee Shops, Hario & Canned Coffee
- Gyudon From Yoshinoya and Sukiya and JAL Air Beef Bowl
- JAL Inflight Food (they even did Air MOS Burgers)
- The Konbini Song and Lawson Evangelion Tie-ins
- Giant Robot Toys - Macross, Godzilla, Gundam
- Alien Art - Haniwa & Dogu Figures (Jomon & Yayoi Periods)
- Japan's Amazing Love of All Things Cat
- Kowloon Walled City and Gunkanjima Island. Even showed up in the James Bond movie Skyfall.
- Emoticons and Densha Otoko
- Hello Kitty and Pokemon Airliners
- Japanese Super Science