Autumn (Tokyo Studio)

Hakuro: Swallows leave/ lycoris blooms (3 of 5)

September 17th, 2008

Hakuro 8 of 15I come from a family of cat lovers. One of my aunts is one of those eccentric women who talk to street cats and take their photos (I am fast becoming one too). Cats have a significant place in Japanese culture. The most well-known, of course, is the Maneki Neko (the beckoning cat). The Japanese language has many expressions relating to cats. There are cat cafes in Tokyo where you have to make appointments or pay by the hour (or both). The Nekoburo on top of Tokyu Hands department store, for example, has a queue a mile long of eager people (adults) who are willing to pay 1000 yen each to pet cats.

So when I arrived in Tokyo, it was to my delight that I am surrounded by street cats. Unfortunately, I also soon found out that many of these are strays are in pretty poor health. This cat, having a drink in Shinjuku Chuo Park, has scars and abysesses and was in a sorry state.

As far as I can gathered stray/ feral cats are a big problem in Tokyo. Some wards offer not-so-well publicised rebate programs for sterilizing pet cats (and a substantial porportion of domesticated cats aren’t sterilized). The feral cat population is not helped by people abandoning their cats or kittens. On top of that, many feral cats are also fed by people – often cat lovers who would like to have pets but are not permitted by their living circumstances.

One Response to “Hakuro: Swallows leave/ lycoris blooms (3 of 5)”

  1. 1 lizzie
    September 18th, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    Cats in japan. I’m reading Murakami’s book “The wind up bird chronicle”, and the cat is such a symbol of hope in that book. Post Ruben – I cried when the cat came home to the hero. And realised how a cat can be to a house as a soul is to a body. And in “Kafka by the shore” – the villain steals cat’s souls.