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The Great Cats of Japanese Literature

National cat day
Did you know that February 22nd is National Cat Day in Japan? Of course, the US and Canada also celebrate this day (on October 29th and August 8th, respectively) to raise awareness for cat adoption, but Japan’s celebration of this day has a different meaning. I’ll give you the funny reason first, and then we can quickly dive into the meaning of felines in Japanese culture. 

The story of National Cat Day

In Japanese, the number two is “ni,” so for February 22nd (02-22), “ni” is repeated three times, which—when said quickly—can sound like “nya nya nya,” the Japanese version of “meow meow meow.” I love that they made this day a national holiday just because of that. For anyone who follows me on Fable, you’ll know that I have a bit of an obsession with Japanese literature, especially books with cats on their covers—I even took the time to put a list together! It seems like every time I read a book by a Japanese author, a cat will be at the heart of the story, or at the very least will be mentioned. So what’s the importance of cats in Japanese culture?Cats have a long history in Japanese folklore. Often portrayed as entities with supernatural powers, they are valuable symbols of luck, wealth, and prosperity. According to an article discussing this topic (found on Catster), “cats symbolize good fortune in Japan.” They are believed to bring wealth, prosperity, and luck, with some believing that cats have protective powers. 

Great Japanese books with cats

If you’re also a feline lover, then I’m sure you’d love any of the Japanese literature books featured in this list. Happy National Cat Day, and happy reading!
What You Are Looking For Is In The Library by Michiko Aoyama digital book - Fable

What You Are Looking For Is In The Library

By Michiko Aoyama

For fans of Before the Coffee Gets Cold, a charming, internationally bestselling Japanese novel about how the perfect book recommendation can change a readers’ life.

Before We Say Goodbye by Toshikazu Kawaguchi digital book - Fable

Before We Say Goodbye

By Toshikazu Kawaguchi

The regulars at the magical Café Funiculi Funicula are well acquainted with its famous legend and extraordinary time-travel offer. Many patrons have reunited with old flames, made amends with estranged family and visited loved ones.

Days at the Morisaki Bookshop by Satoshi Yagisawa  digital book - Fable

Days at the Morisaki Bookshop

By Satoshi Yagisawa

A young woman loses everything but finds herself—a tale of new beginnings, romantic and family relationships, and the comfort that can be found in books.

Kafka On The Shore by Haruki Murakami digital book - Fable

Kafka On The Shore

By Haruki MurakamiFable Club Pick

Acclaimed author Haruki Murakami enfolds readers in a world where cats talk, fish fall from the sky, and spirits slip out of their bodies to make love or commit murder, in what is a truly remarkable journey.

The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa digital book - Fable

The Travelling Cat Chronicles

By Hiro Arikawa

A life-affirming anthem to kindness and self-sacrifice that shows how the smallest things can provide the greatest joy.

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