Posted: 22nd Feb 2023
Did you know that the 22nd of February is 猫の日 (neko no hi): Cat Day?
While International Cat Day apparently falls on the 8th of August each year, in Japan, people get to celebrate their feline companions almost half a year early.
Why the 22nd of February?
In Japanese, cats say ニャー (nyaa) or ニャン (nyan) - the equivalent of "miaow".
That's right: the choice of the 22nd of February as 猫の日 (neko no hi) comes down to a wordplay!
In Japanese, the 22nd of February is written as 2月22日 or 2/22. As the number two is read as "ni", 2/22 can be (jokingly) read as ニャーニャーニャー (nyaa nyaa nyaa) or ニャンニャンニャン (nyan nyan nyan).
How is Cat Day Celebrated in Japan?
As with many similar days (see イチゴの日 - Strawberry Day - in this post), 猫の日 (neko no hi) isn't a particularly serious occasion - nor is it a national holiday. However, it does come with an earnest desire to celebrate cats, as expressed by the Committee for the Establishment of Cat Day back in 1987, who described the occasion as "a commemorative day upon which to express gratitude for the happiness of living alongside cats and to reflect upon this joy together with cats" (猫と一緒に暮らせる幸せに感謝し、猫とともにこの喜びをかみしめる記念日) (source).
If you're in Japan around the time of 猫の日 (neko no hi), you may spot a sudden surge in cat-themed goods, posters and foods on sale. This article on the Japanese website TABI LABO introduces some examples, from cat-shaped manjuu (steamed buns) to cat-themed stationary, mini furniture for cats and even ramen made specially for cats!
How Can I Express My Love for Cats in Japanese?
If you've read this far, I'm guessing you may be a fan of cats! While I admit I'm more of a dog person myself, I know how important it is to be able to tell others *just how much* you love your favourite animal, so here are a few phrases you might find useful:
- 猫が大好きです (Neko ga daisuki desu - I love cats)
- 猫好きです (Neko zuki desu - I'm a cat lover)
- 猫派です (Neko ha desu - I'm a cat person)*
*This particular phrase implies you prefer cats over dogs, with the word 派 (ha) meaning "faction", "party" or "camp". As such, "I'm a dog person" would be 犬派です (inu ha desu).
Keen to learn some more cat-themed Japanese? Check out this Word of the Week post on one of my favourite Japanese words: 猫舌 (neko jita - "cat tongue").
What are Popular Cat Names in Japan?
Finally, let's look at some popular cat names in Japan.
According to a Fukui Shimbun article from this year (2023), the most popular cat names in Japan are currently:
The article also lists the most popular names for male cats:
④マル (Maru) ④フク (Fuku)
And female cats:
Which name do you like the most? I think キナコ (Kinako - roasted soybean flour) and モカ(Moka - mocha) are really cute!
So: all that remains to say is 猫の日おめでとう！(Neko no hi omedetō - Happy Cat Day!) Whether you're a cat person or not, I hope you have a lovely time.
You've reached the end of this post! I hope you enjoyed it.
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