Z is for Zoomorphic Architecture: CATS Immortalized
Final day in the A to Z Challenge.
Zoomorphism means giving animal characteristics to deities (mythology), persons (literature), arts (statues, graphics), and architecture (buildings), generally in three dimensional representation.
The cats have been meowing and meowing and meowing, trying to get me to write more about them. They wanted to take over this blog post themselves *shudder*, but I promised to get going on a “cat post” just to keep them quiet.
Coming up: Three zoomorphic cat-shaped buildings. Meow.
First, let’s go to a tiny, ferry-accessible-only island off the coast of northern Japan, Tashirojima. Nicknamed “Cat Island,” this island has a cat population larger than its elderly human population. In fact, the cat shrines (10) and cat monuments (51) almost outnumber the people. Feeding cats, so the story goes, brings great wealth and good fortune. (Dogs are not allowed on this island!)
This island was severely damaged in the 2011 Great Tohoku Earthquake and the tsunami that followed. People and cats escaped harm, but the destruction of buildings and fishing vessels was rampant.
Cats on this island seem to be precocious. In the past, when the silk industry thrived there, these furry critter-catchers performed a great service by eliminating pesky gourmet-silk-worm-eating mice. And not only did these furry felines excel at rodent catching, they also predicted the weather for fisherman and announced (by their behavior) the arrival of schools of fish in nearby waters. No wonder these cats were so loved.
One day, one of these beloved island protectors was accidently killed, and the grieving fishermen built a small rock shrine in its memory. That was the beginning of this cat love affair. Now there is an inn (Hamaya) on the island that welcomes guests looking for the island’s most famous cat, Jack. “Tare Mini Jack” (Droopy-Eared Jack) became famous after a movie featured his story. (Click on the link above to see some cat movie clips.)
The sign above right recounts the tale of the first cat rock monument. Notice the “Hello Kitty.” He is saying, “Welcome.” (Did you notice the Hello Kitty on my blog header? I got him on a trip to Japan a number of years ago.)
This once-dying island now has a whole new life, including zoomorphic camping facilities pictured below.
Photos of camping facilities by Zooming Travel of Japan
In southern Japan, you can find this cat-shaped bus shelter. Supposedly an old priest and his faithful cat lived in an ancient temple in Saifukuji, Japan. Unfortunately, a large rat also lived in the temple, and he often bit the priest. In desperation, the priest pleaded with his cat and its friends to capture and kill the rat. Reinforcement cats flooded in from surrounding towns to form a vigilante committee to take care of this humongous, bothersome priest-biter. The battle broke out after midnight; screeching, hissing, and grunts of the fierce encounter could be heard throughout the night for miles around.
The next morning, the priest discovered the now-dead rat as well as the bodies of all the volunteer vigilantes who had helped to rid the temple of the malevolent menace. The priest buried the dead cats at this site, and later the community built a cat-shaped bus shelter to commemorate the cat-astrophe.
Photo by pokoroto, Brian G. Kennedy.
What a nifty place for kids to learn and play. This kitty-shaped kindergarten was designed by Tomi Ungerer and artchitect Ayla Suzan Yondel.
What fun to go to recess by sliding down the cat’s tail to the playground from the second floor of the building. Children enter the building through the cat’s mouth and eat lunch in the cat’s tummy dining room. Photo image from Milk Magazine.
The Last Meow.
Do you hear that racket? Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow.
That’s Zoey, the Cool Cat, owned by photographer, Russel Ray. Zoey heard it was Z-Day and wanted see what all the fuss was about. When he found out it was Z-Day, he wanted in. Anyway, here’s his stamp of approval (used with permission) on this blog post. What higher honor could I possibly get? Thanks, Zoey. (See more pictures of Zoey in Meow link above.) Meow for now. =<^;^>=