Nekomata

1970's



Illustrated by Toriyama Sekien (鳥山 石燕 1712 - 1788)


I had read a Japanese novel about "Nekomata", version in English translation, in the elementary years.

A bakeneko (化け猫, bakeneko "monster cat") is, in Japanese folklore, a cat with supernatural abilities akin to those of the fox or raccoon dog. A cat may become a bakeneko in a number of ways: it may reach a certain age, be kept for a certain number of years, grow to a certain size, or be allowed to keep a long tail. In the last case, the tail forks in two and the bakeneko is then called a nekomata (猫又, 猫叉, or 猫股 in kangji for "forked cat"). This superstition may have some connection to the breeding of the Japanese Bobtail.




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