Kanji 1742

Thank you for visiting this Character Home Page. Below you'll find a synopsis of the essay. If you wish to read the full text, the PDF of the essay is available for purchase to the right.


The cat is omnipresent in Japan, appearing in nearly every house in olden times and in cat cafes today. Having inspired scads of charming expressions, as well as Hello Kitty and beckoning porcelain figurines, cats have also stimulated the imaginations of creative types from Kuniyoshi to Soseki and Haruki Murakami. Find out why Japanese people have such deep affection for cats. 

Revision history:

Apr. 8, 2023: p. 20: Slightly revised wording in the discussion of the last definition of 猫.

Oct. 29, 2022: p. 9: I straightened the photo and made several adjustments to the vocabulary, mostly reducing multiple definitions to just one. I also added the missing definition of 又は and corrected the explanation about 処する; it now says that the verb is shown in the passive (not potential) form.

Aug. 30, 2021:

  • p. 2 sidebar: Reversed the order of the title and subtitle of 「猫も杓子も」.
  • p. 18: I had said that a shamisen is covered in cat skin. It could also be from a dog, as I’ve now indicated.

June 22, 2021: p. 1: Deleted a stray punctuation mark and mentioned in the text that ねこ is the Joyo kun-yomi.

Jan. 14, 2020: 

  • p. 2: Etymology Box: Replaced the old Henshall etymology with the new one.
  • p. 20: Added a link to the Kanshudo games.

Jan. 30, 2018: Fixed broken links throughout the essay. Also made these changes:

  • pp. 2–3: I swapped the expressions 猫の子一匹居ない and 猫一匹いない because the former is the common one, and the latter appears in books but not dictionaries. More important, I had said that the 猫の子 in the first expression didn't mean "kitten," but it does! I've revised that.
  • p. 9: Added an oddly omitted definition for 一年.

Dec. 13, 2013: On p. 4, I changed "can't" to "won't" in the proverb "A crying cat won't catch a mouse."

Mar. 31, 2013: Fixed links on pp. 2, 12, and 15.


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