Cat (neko)

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Cat (neko)

***** Location: Japan
***** Season: Nonseasonal Topic
***** Category: Animal



The cat, with no further explanation, is man's best friend during the whole year. There are however seasonal events in a cat's life that come as a kigo. Let us look at them.

.. .. .. Kigo for early spring:

love-season for cats, neko no koi 猫の恋、koi neko 恋猫
cat in heat, cats mate, neko sakaru 猫さかる
cat in spring, haru no neko 春の猫(はるのねこ)
philandering cat, ukare neko 浮かれ猫
"cats walking to their lovers", kayou neko 通う猫(かようねこ)

a cat's mate : according to the Chinese character it is written in, it can be the male or female partner,

neko no tsuma 猫の (male) 猫の (female)

cat going hunting for a girlfriend, imogari yuku neko
..... 妹がり行く猫(いもがりゆくねこ)
pledge of a cat, neko no chigiri 猫の契(ねこのちぎり)

pregnant cat, harami neko 孕み猫(はらみねこ)

kigo for late spring

mother cat giving birth, neko no san 猫の産(ねこのさん)

kitten, neko no ko 猫の子
small cat, koneko 仔猫(こねこ
parent of a kitten, neko no oya 猫の親(ねこのおや), oyaneko 親猫(おやねこ)
cat with kittens, komochi neko 子持猫(こもちねこ)

February 22 is "the Day of the Cat"
The Japanese cat's voice is "nyan!"
So, this is play of words, 2.22 (nyan, nyan, nyan)

- photo : Japan Lovers, facebook -

spring adventures -
getting old

Gabi Greve, April 2015


kigo for all winter

kajike neko かじけ猫 (かじけねこ) cat is all stiff
(because of the cold)
haineko, hai neko 灰猫(はいねこ)neko in the ashes
(the hearth was a warm place in an old farmhouse)
kamado neko 竈猫(かまどねこ)neko in the hearth
hekkoi neko へっつい猫(へっついねこ)
kotatsu neko 炬燵猫(こたつねこ)cat in the kotatsu

My Cat Haiku Kun, by Gabi Greve

. Kotatsu, the heatable table   

kotatsu neko -
another kigo
to brighten my day !

ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo

.. .. .. Plant Kigo for Autumn:

"toy for cats", neko jarashi, nekojarashi 猫じゃらし
giant foxtail, Chinese foxtail, Chinese millet

Setaria faberi, Setaria viridis.
giant bristlegrass, nodding foxtail

enokorogusa 狗尾草 , えのこぐさ "fox tail plant"
..... inukogusa 犬子草(いぬこぐさ)"small dog plant"
murasaki enokoro 紫えのころ(むらさきえのころ)violet
kin enokoro 金えのころ(きんえのころ) golden
hama enokoro 浜えのころ(はまえのころ)on the beach

CLICK for more photos

Of the rice family, with a thin stem and a tail of about 10 cm. It is used to make cats or small dogs try to catch it.
During the Edo period, its name was "dog tail", but children also used it to play with cats, and with time the name changed.

Worldwide use

Katze, Kater

Things found on the way

Do not miss the Interview with Haiku kun
the honorable vice director of our World Kigo Database.
Japan Times, December 17, 2005


Manekineko, the Beckoning Cat 招き猫
This is a special symbol for good luck in Japan and a nice present for the New Year.

Here is my story about this auspicious cat.

Gabi Greve


Japanese cats with NO tail .
Find the Explanation here.


Nekomata – The Split-Tailed Cat

by Zack Davisson

Kamakura Period –
The Nekomata of the Mountains

Most Japanese yokai were born during the Edo period, but the nekomata has more ancient roots. Mention of the nekomata first appeared during the Kamakura period (1185-1333), where it was mentioned in the literary jottings of Yoshida Kenko in his scroll Tsurezure-gusa (徒然草; The Harvest of Leisure, also known as Essays in Idleness). Yoshida wrote “Deep in the mountains there is a creature called the nekomata. It is said that it feeds on humans.” At around the same period, Fujiwara Sadaie recorded in the scroll Meigetsuki (明月記; The Record of the Clear Moon, sometimes called Diary of the Clear Moon) that on August 8th in the first year of Tenpuku (1233) in Nanto (modern day Nara prefecture) a nekomata from the mountains killed and ate several people.

source : hyakumonogatari.com


- - - - - Matsuo Basho

mugimeshi ni yatsururu koi ka neko no tsuma

Has it been from love as well as barley rice
that it has grown so scrawny?
cat's mate.

Tr. Kawamoto

A cat's wife -
grown thin from love
and barley?

Tr. Shirane

from barley gruel
and from love it looses weight ?
the cat in love

Tr. Gabi Greve

Warum schreit die kleine Katze?
War der Brei ihr nicht sanft?
Oder ist sie verliebt?

Fur die Katzen-Zunft Messkirch
Am 21. Februar 1954 / Martin Heidegger
. Martin Heidegger .

This hokku has the question marker KA at the end of line 2.

source : itoyo/basho
Gunma, Temple 正幸寺 群馬県前橋市三河 正幸寺

source : satoneko.html

Written in 元禄4年, Basho age 48.

hokku about food by
. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .

MORE - about cats
. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .


love season for cats -
the neighbours daddy too
returns in the morning

neko no koi - tonari no papa mo asa-gaeri

oo oo oo

cat and the mouse
taking a nap -
autumn solitude

See: Gabi Greve and Haiku Kun

If you want to see more of Haiku kun and his mother, check this:
Cats in Paradise, Japan

If you want to see more of Haiku kun, my sleeping cat, check this:
Haiku Kun, his Album.


spring roof --
cats' community band
sawing the night in two

scrap-heap --
dining gracefully
a stray cat

Read more of Origa's haiku here:

And check out Cat haiga ~ by Origa (Olga Hooper)
and more haiga



Rogério Viana, Brazil


Muthurwa stalls-
houseflies buzzing on
a decomposing cat

Andrew Otinga
Kenya, February 2011


. . . CLICK here for more cat kokeshi dolls こけし !


- - - - - Kobayashi Issa - - - - -

kaide mite kaide miru nari neko no koi

they sniff each other
sniff each other...
the lover cats

Tr. David Lanoue

toshi no uchi ni haru wa ki ni keri neko no koi

the year's not over
but spring comes anyway...
cats making love

Tr. David Lanoue

Robin D. Gill points out that the first 13 syllables of this haiku are taken from Ariwara-no-Motokata's waka--the first song of the ancient Kokinshuu collection.

Comment by Lary Bole, Translating Haiku:     

I think this refers to the fact that due to adjustments that had to be made in the old Japanese lunar calendar, to keep it reasonably "accurate," sometimes the official day on which spring
started fell before the official start of the new year; so that sometimes a single year would have two official starts of spring, one near the beginning of the year, and one near the end. In an analogous way our modern calendar can sometimes have two full moons in the same month.

Jane Reichhold discusses this phenomenon in relation to the earliest known haiku written by Basho:

haru ya ko shi / toshi ya yuki ken / kotsugomori

Preface: "Today we have the first day of spring in spite of the date."

has spring come
or the year gone away?
end of December

Reichhold goes on to comment:

This is the oldest dated verse by Basho that we presently have. In his lifetime, the Japanese calendar was based on the phases of the moon so that the month began with the new moon, continued with the full moon on the 15th night and ended in the dark of the moon.

As with our solar calendar, adjustments had to be made to keep the calendar in sync with the skies. Thus, in 1663, instead of the first day of spring arriving on New Year's Day, as was normal, it was marked as beginning two days earlier.

Though this verse was written on what our calendar today would be the 7th of February, it referred to the last days of the old year, so it makes more sense to adjust the last line from "Second-Last Day" to end of December. This phenomenon had been commented on by poets since olden times as is shown by the link between Basho's verse and especially the one written by Ariwara Motokata (888-953) that opens the imperial anthology, Kokin Waka Shuu

(before the year ends / spring has already come / left-over days / how shall we name them? / the old or the new year?").

toshi no uchi ni haru wa ki ni keri
hitotose o nizo ya iwan
kotoshi to ya iwan

sniffing and looking
looking and sniffing
the lover cat


. WKD : Kobayashi Issa 小林一茶 in Edo .

onna-neko ko yue no nusumi toku nige yo

female cat
stealing for your kittens
quick, run away!

Tr. Chris Drake

This hokku was written in the 8th month (September) of 1823, three months after Issa's wife Kiku wife has died. Issa sees a mother cat filching something (human food?), and he also seems to see that a human or dog or some other creature is approaching. He's obviously very concerned and warns the cat that she needs to leave what she's doing and return to her kittens immediately. It's hard not to feel that Issa's natural feeling for the cat and her kittens has been deepened by the loss of his wife and three infant children as well as by the bad health of his infant son Konzaburo, who will die in the 12th month of this year.

One puzzle is why Issa calls the mother cat simply "female cat." This is Issa's only hokku to use "female cat." In the previous two hokku in his diary he uses "mother cat."
Here's the previous hokku:

haha-neko ya nusumi shite kite ko o yobaru

mother cat
back with stolen goods
calls her kittens

The mother cat has apparently brought back some food and is making loud calls to her scattered kittens, so the use of "mother cat" is natural. Why, then, does Issa uses "female cat," literally "woman cat," in the first hokku above? Is he implying that a male cat is approaching and that he doesn't want the mother cat to forget about her kittens? September is the last month of the mating season, and even nursing cats are known to get pregnant. Or could Issa be suggesting that female cats and female humans are similar in the way they care for their young?

Chris Drake

io no neko shagare koe nite ukare-keri

the cat in the house
floats elsewhere

This hokku is from the 2nd month (March) of 1817, when Issa was traveling around just east of Edo. He writes "the hut," a standard polite, humble expression meaning "the house," so he seems to be referring to one of the houses of his students or followers where he is staying temporarily during his trip. The cat could be either male or female, since both are in rut in spring, though females wail more when they are in heat, while males caterwaul continually for various females. In any case, the cat comes and goes, and even when it's home it makes guttural, feral sounds that seem husky-voiced to Issa. The cat is no longer simply domestic, and it "floats" or is carried away to another world by its overwhelming desire.

Chris Drake

oo-neko ya yobidashi ni kite tsukuri-goe

yama-neko mo tsukuri-goe shite shinobikeri

. SEE : tomcat's fake voice - Chris Drake .

Related words

***** Voices of Animals, neko no koe 猫の声




. Gabi Greve said...

the lover cat's
call is answered...
facing the river

koi neko ya kotaeru koe wa kawa mukau


by Issa, 1824

Unfortunately, his would-be mate is on the other side. This haiku recalls one written by Issa in 1812:
neko naku ya naka nagaruru sumida-gawa

cats' love calls--
between them flows
Sumida River

Tr. David Lanoue

Anonymous said...

Haiku about Cats



















































































Anonymous said...

the big cat
worn out from lovemaking

ooneko ga koi kutabire no ibiki kana


by Issa, 1822

Tr. David Lanoue

anonymous said...

fiery sunset --
even the cat watches
from the roof

Isabelle, Brussels
Happy Haiku

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Neko Jinja, Neko-jinja 猫神社 / ネコ神社 cat shrines
for example

Miyagi - Tashirojima 田代島 Tashiro Island

Tokushima - 猫神社 - O-Matsu Daigongen お松大権現 


Gabi Greve said...

Kobayashi Issa


nora neko no tsume togu hodo ya nokoru yuki

snow patches so hard
homeless cats sharpen
their claws on them

This hokku is from the 2nd month (March) of 1822, when Issa was traveling around meeting and staying with followers near his hometown. Issa's diary says a fair amount of both rain and snow fell during this month, and a lot of hard, frozen snow evidently still remains on the ground in spots that don't get much sunlight. Spring comes about a month later to Issa's mountainous hometown area than to Edo and other warmer areas on the coast, and after having lived in Edo for many years, Issa still seems to be a bit surprised at how long the snow remains. He seems to be even more amazed at the ability of homeless cats to survive winter in the Snow Country, as the area was and still is called.

While domesticated cats are sharpening their claws on boards and beams indoors, the homeless cats have to use patches of frozen snow. Nokoru yuki, remaining snow, is a vague phrase, but I take it to suggest snow patches in general and Issa to be referring to many striking scratch mark patterns left here and there by cats, as if the cats, too, were itching to be free of ice and snow. Issa may be suggesting that while the cats leave visible scratch marks, winter confinement and late springs leave other, invisible marks on the minds of the people who live here, including himself. This and other hokku make one wonder whether Issa didn't feel slightly homeless himself, even though he had returned to his hometown and received half of his father's house there to live in.

Chris Drake

- google for images said...

福石猫 Cat Stone "Fukuishineko"

Onomichi (尾道) is famous for its Temple Walk and Path of cats.
Onomichi residents love cats. A lot of stones painted to look like cats are placed around the town. Shunji Sonoyama, an artist from Onomichi City, placed over a thousand cute fukuishineko stone cats, around temples in Onomichi.
There is a saying that your wishes would be realized when you stroke each cat three times.

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Gotanjoji 御誕生寺 Gotanjo-Ji
nekodera 猫寺 "Cat Temple"


Gabi Greve said...

October 29
National Cat Day

was founded by celebrity human being Colleen Paige. It is a celebration that takes place on October 29th every year in the United States.

The National Cat Day website states that the holiday was first celebrated in 2005 "to help galvanize the public to recognize the number of cats that need to be rescued each year and also to encourage cat lovers to celebrate the cat(s) in their life for the unconditional love and companionship they bestow upon us." The day is supported by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, a nonprofit organization which also works to encourage pet adoption.
An international cat day was created in 2002 by the International Fund for Animal Welfare

Gabi Greve said...

"Neko Atsume" (Cats Gather)
is a popular new Japanese app.

Gabi Greve said...

Life of cats
Hiraki Ukiyo-E collection
eko o kaburu 猫をかぶる
(to put on the cat):
to play the hypocrite, "To be a wolf in sheep's clothing."

nekojita 猫舌 (cat tongue):
a tongue which is very sensitive to hot foods.
nekoze 猫背 (cat back): a hunched or stooped profile (like a sitting cat); someone with bad posture.
neko no te mo karitai 猫の手も借りたい
(want to borrow even a cat’s hands): to be extremely busy or short-handed
neko no shippo 猫の尻尾 (cat’s tail):
something which doesn’t matter whether you have it or not (many native Japanese breeds of cat have very short tails).
look at the illustrations here
on facebook

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Edo-neko Ukiyoe Nekotzukushi- (Collected Woodblock Prints of Cats in Edo)
Shinichi Inagaki and Toshihiko Isao
neko no ekaki 猫の絵描き painter of cats
neko no nomi-tori 猫の蚤(ノミ)取り picking fleas from cats

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