Before you think I’ve lost my marbles, this is actually significant. Know why? Well today is February 22nd in Japan, and that can only mean one thing: It’s cat day!
My own kitty, Nibbles.
Why ni ni ni?
Good question. February 22nd reads as 02/22, and the Japanese word for two is “ni” (pronounced nee). “Ni ni ni” is similar to the sound a cat makes in Japanese (“nya nya nya”), hence this date was chosen. “Neko no hi” is the Japanese name for this most auspicious of days.
A sakura kitty in Okinawa.
When did it start?
In 1987, a poll was run on the populace regarding their fondness for felines, and as it turned out, Japan was very much in favour of honouring their furry friends with a day dedicated just to them. Believe it or not, an Executive Cat Day Committee ran the poll and organised the date. I cannot make this shit up. Glorious.
How do you celebrate?
By giving all the love to your kitty! Failing that, you can offer love to other kitties (maybe check with said kitties first), dress up as a kitty, act like one, cook kitty-shaped treats, or you can be THAT cat owner and just torment your cat with cucumbers and clothing for YouTube views. So long as the spotlight is on the feline, it’s all good.
Of course Japan has cat-shaped celebrities. Here’s a few of my favourites.
12 Cats Lady. This glorious Instagram account follows the lives of 12 chinchilla Persians and their doting owner/servant. It’s ridiculously cute and all the cats are well loved and cared for. Give her a follow: @12catslady.
Tama. Tama was the station master kitty from Wakayama Prefecture. She was hugely popular with staff, locals, and tourists, and was often seen patrolling donning her cute little hat. Sadly Tama passed over into kitty heaven in 2015, but she is immortalised in the train line Hall Of Fame.
Maru. Maru is a YouTube sensation, making her debut in 2008 and with an impressive following and over 21.7 million views on one video alone, she’s basically a megastar. Here’s her YouTube.
Nyan Cat. If you don’t know who Nyan Cat is, you probably haven’t had an internet collection long. It’s an adorable pixelated kitty with a pop-tart body and that flies through space on a rainbow. Yea. Anyway, it has a ridiculously catchy tune; a kitty nyaaa-ing over a Hatsune Miku (of Vocaloid fame) synth. There’s even a 10 hour loop if you ever need a long fix.
Anime. Far too many to name, but cats are popular features in anime and manga. To name some of my favourites: Nyanko-Sensei from Natsume Yuujinchou, Chi from Chi’s Sweet Home, Happy and Carla from Fairy Tail, Sakamoto from Nichijo, Jiji from Kiki’s Delivery Service, Luna and Artemis from Sailor Moon, Poyo from Poyopoyo Kansatsu Nikki, Buyo from Inuyasha, Korin from the Dragonball series, Kuroneko-sama from Trigun, Takkun from FLCL, the Nekotalia kitties from Hetalia, and of course Nekobasu (cat bus) from My Neighbour Totoro.
Nyanko Sensei from Natsume Yuujinchou. Image credit.
Ninja’s and cats?
February 22nd is also, very aptly, Ninja day! Cats and ninjas are pretty similar: stealthy, quick on their feet, like heights, armed with pointy weapons, and aloof. Best place to see some ninjas? Try Koka City in Shiga prefecture, where town hall officials all dress as assassins for the day.
You can always celebrate both by becoming a ninja kitty for the day. Just a thought…
Happy and safe travels,
My partner in crime.