Cats As Art

While I was preparing the story on Japans Cat man, I came across this. I couldn’t look away and wasn’t sure if it was a little creepy or LOL funny. Either way the longer I looked the more I liked it. Where else but Japan.

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All photos unless otherwise stated are from Japan School of Wool Art

This very realistic, like the eyes are following you realistic, giant cat head mask was on display at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. The mask is the creation of art teacher Housetu Sato and his students who sewed the Tabby Cat head out of wool felt. While I am sure there will be a few people wanting to purchase it he doesn’t have plans to sell his creation….yet. Instead his lucky students got to pose with it in these fun photos.

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This would be fun to wear while taking public transit?

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Tabby Cat coordinates with the perfect matching coat

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Imagine this waiting for you in a dark room

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Cat bachelor will give you a rose now

So… creepy or cool?

Japans Cat Man

Japan is well-known for its love of cats and cat culture. They were the first to pioneer cat cafes, which have since popped up all over the world, and they even have their very own island where cats dominate and outnumber people 6 to 1.

Japan also has Masahiko Suga, a 53-year-old retired electronics company worker who has become the countries first official cat man.

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Masahiko can been seen walking his nine cats around Kitakyushu’s central shopping district area in south-west Japan. His daily walks have earned him the name of ‘Cat Man of Kyushu”, or Cat Uncle.

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Image – The Happy Lab

Masahiko rescued his first stray cat in 1999 and he said that they relieved his work stress but started taking them outside when they began to damage his furniture. Masahiko tells The Asahi Shimbun that he is happy if he “can give an opportunity for cat lovers unable to have one as a pet to feel comforted by playing with his cats.

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His little pride of well groomed cats includes Himalayan and Chinchilla Golden who are known for their laid back nature.

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Image – Rocket News 24

Japan, Cats, Japans Cat man, Japans Cat culture, Cat cafes, Cat Island, Equality for Cats, Masahiko Suga,

Image – Rocket News 24

Normally taking cats outside without being safely supervised is not something I would suggest, however from all accounts and comments by people who have actually met him the cats seems to be cozy and content.

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Image – Rocket News 24

So what exactly motivates Masahiko to walk his cats? Besides not being something you would see everyday, he says “I hope society will eventually give cats the status it gives to dogs” and, in a world where our feline friends often seem to get the short end of the stick, asking for cat equality sounds pretty good to me.

You can check out a short video of Masahiko on his walks or friend him on Facebook where he posts more pictures of his cats.

What do you think cat equality or cat-ploitation?

Japan Before Internet Cats

Whatever did people do for their daily cat fix before the invention of the internet? It’s sometimes hard to imagine there once existed other “mediums” that humans used to express their love for felines that also satisfied the instinctive needs of many to look at cats. The Life of Cats: Selections from the Hiraki Ukiyo-e exhibit, on at the Japan Society, shows us that our cat-obsession is a cross cultural phenomena dating back centuries and that Maru the cat wasn’t the first famous Japanese feline to be immortalized for all the world to see.

There are five sections to the exhibit: Cats and People, Cats as People, Cats versus People, Cats Transformed and Cats and Play. “The collection illustrates the depth of this mutual attraction by mining the wealth of bravura depictions of cats to be found in ukiyo-e woodblock prints of the Edo Period (1615-1868).

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Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797–1861), Cats Suggested by the Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō (detail), 1847. Color woodblock print; each sheet 14 5/8 x 10 inches. Courtesy Private Collection, New York.

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Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858), Cat Crossing to Eat, 1830-44. Color woodblock print; 36 7/8 x 22 3/8 inches. Courtesy Hiraki Ukiyo-e Foundation.

Since arriving in Japan aboard Japanese ships transporting sacred Buddhist scriptures from China in the mid-sixth century, cats have proceeded to purr and paw their way into the heart of Japanese life, folklore, and art.”

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Yoshimura Kokei (1770-1836), Dragon and Tiger, Hanging scroll, ink, color, and gold on silk; 90 x43 1/2 inches. Courtesy of Joan B. Mirviss, Ltd. New York.

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Utagawa Hiroshige (1797–1858), Asakusa Ricefields and Torinomachi Festival from the series One Hundred Famous Views of Edo, 1857. Color woodblock print; 22 ½ x 16 inches. Courtesy Hiraki Ukiyo-e Foundation.

Life with Cats exhibit gets animated in the Popular Hotspring Spa (of Cats)

Various pieces will rotate during the exhibit which runs from Friday, March 13 – Sunday, June 7, 2015 at the Japan Society in New York.

Cats in Art – Hawaii Edition

Colorful, fun, and beautifully done the paintings by visual artist Linda Bachrach had me at meow. Linda is a Honolulu based artist who creates Asian inspired watercolor paintings featuring cats who are full of personality. Sweet, cheeky and playful I found her work warm and welcoming. Walking by an outdoor art show in Waikiki I spotted her paintings and I could not leave without picking up at least one print to take home with me.

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Hibiscus Cat -This darling cat came home to Toronto

Linda started painting in 1997 in San Francisco then in 2001 moved to Honolulu where she studied the basics of western watercolor painting. She creates her feline masterpieces using Chinese brush, bamboo, pen, twig, eyedropper dipped in ink, Japanese ink sticks and Gansai paints.

Besides prints Linda also creates original pieces on canvas and cards, a few that I really enjoyed are posted here with her permission.

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The whimsical works convey a love for her subjects with paintings sometimes featuring the personality of her own cats. The felines are all painted in a “loose and expressive style to capture the attitudes and personalities of these wonderful creatures. Most are imaginative in color and shape with a special mischievous look in their eye.”

If you find yourself in Hawaii be sure to stop by the art Art on the Zoo Fence near the Honolulu Zoo across from Kapi’olani Park in Waikiki on Sundays to say hi and pick up a Hawaiian cat to bring home. If you can’t make it out this way fear not, Linda’s work is available from her Etsy Store – Hawaii Cats with prices starting $18.

 

 

 

Feline Identity Crisis – Goodbye Kitty

Fans around the world had a huge bombshell dropped on them this week, the news that Hello Kitty was not a kitty after all.

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As child I had my share of Hello Kitty items, including stickers and notebooks, and the reason I loved her was because she was a cat, a cute cartoon like cat. Fun, friendly with a universal appeal Hello Kitty has been immortalized in every way possible, she even has her own airline EVA Air. How many cartoon cats can say that?

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EVA Airlines

Sanrio said Hello Kitty is a “…cartoon character. She is a little girl…But she is not a cat. She’s never depicted on all fours. She walks and sits like a two-legged creature. She does have a pet cat of her own..called Charmmy Kitty.” – BuzzFeed

Her name is apparently “Kitty White, she is a Scorpio, and loves apple pie.” Of course, how did we miss that. Oh wait.. maybe it’s because we were distracted by the cat ears, whiskers and paws?

So is it Goodbye Kitty? I don’t think so, to me she is and will always be a cat, and I am sure fans around the world would agree. I think we can all safely deny the silliness that Sanrio has unleashed and say Hello Kitty had a brief identity crisis before going back to her roots…or paws.

One other thing, if Hello Kitty is a little girl, what does that make her friends?

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Hello Kitty and Friends

Pizza Cat!

Would you order a pizza made and delivered by cats? Now you can thanks to Pizza Hut Japan who is putting our feline friends to work in a cute new mock video campaign called Pizza cats.

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Of course it’s not real, but we can dream can’t we? The videos highlight how a Pizza Hut would run if cats were at the helm and as you can imagine getting your pizza delivered on time might not happen.

Watch employees cats hard at work at the local Pizza Hut here, and sorry they don’t deliver to North America.

 

Caturday! New Apartment New Cat

There are lots of things that people look for in a new place to live whether it’s location, a great kitchen or maybe a cool outdoor space, but what do cat lovers look for? If you live in Tokyo you can easily combine apartment hunting with cat adoption – new apartment new cat.

Cats, Japan, Tokyo, Cat Guardian Tokyo Cat Guardian (TCG) introduced a partnership with specific landlords to include a “free cat” with a new apartment. The goal is to help get Tokyo’s huge number of homeless cats get off the street, reduce the large euthanasia rates  (something like 222,000 cats are killed a year), pair cat lovers with a furry new friend and encourage adoption.

The idea is to make condominium and apartment living more enticing by adding a feline companion to the list of amenities. So far the Cat Mansion Program has been well received and is growing with 20 plus properties joining up to be part of the initiative.

TCG takes the process very seriously and ensures that new applicants are carefully screened prior to adopting a cat from one of the organizations shelters, but once applicants are approved they take their new cat home. The tenant is responsible for paying for the cat food and any vet bills during their stay in the rental and if and when they move, they can decide whether to adopt the cat permanently or return the kitty to the TCG shelter.

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Homeless Cats of Tokyo find new homes with the Cat Mansion Program

Importantly the organization provides support to adopters with information sessions on how to properly care for their new companions. The founder of the idea, and member of TCG Yoko Yamamoto, goes one step further by making herself available to new cat parents 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to assist them with any questions they may have about their cats.

What do you think of this program, and would you like to see something similar where you live? Let me know by leaving a comment