Tofugu (a wonky Japanese language and culture website) blogger Linda Lombardi has written a great piece on this very subject entitled ‘Printed, Painted, and Sculpted Kitties – Cats in Japanese Art’:
Cats are an obsession in modern Japan. Most people have heard of cat cafes by now, but did you know there are cat shrines and even cat tourism? Tama the cat was appointed stationmaster of a Wakayama train station and revived the local economy by attracting tens of thousands of tourists a year. There’s a tourist-magnet island overrun with kitties. February 22 is unofficially Cat Day because nyan-nyan (the Japanese “mew-mew”) can also mean “two-two.”
This may all seem like particularly modern craziness, but in reality it’s just the 21st-century version of something that goes way back, as we can see by looking at the history of Japanese art. Whether ink on paper or pixels on a screen, depictions of cats have been popular for as long as cats have been in Japan.
Read the full article here.