Thus, cat grit

HITOMI Hitsudai (人見必大) on cats, from his 1695 Honchō shokkan (『本朝食鑑』, literally "A mirror [held up] to the diet of this country"):

[Cats who decline to catch mice, preferring to hunt small birds and scavenge for scraps instead] are ravenous bandits (貪賊) with no value worth speaking of. Cats of this kind invariably seem foolish. They seize food and flee when people are not looking, then hide underneath something and refuse to come out.

(Doesn't sound so foolish to me -- maybe he meant "pretend to be foolish"? The only version I have is a modern-style Japanese edition which says "必ず愚かのようで". Continuing...)

For this reason, when someone has greed in their heart but keeps it hidden and does not express it publicly, the common people call this neko-konjō (猫根性, "cat-tenacity").

Konjō could also be translated "determination", "guts", "grit", etc.; the characters literally mean "root nature".

Note that neko-konjō is not to be confused with akaneko konjō (赤猫根性, "red cat konjō", which is apparently a phrase encapsulating the tendency of the good citizens of Ōita prefecture to be inconsiderate of others and generally uncooperative. You stay classy, Ōita. (In fairness, I understand that they spin it as individualism and independent-mindedness.)

Hey, here's a whole page of prefectural stereotypes! Poor old Saitama; their unique characteristic is "Not really having a unique characteristic". Having lived there for a few years I can confirm that this is the case.

Oh, and before anyone asks -- Hitomi makes a point of saying that he's only heard of people eating cat, and that for medicinal purposes. Its meat, he is given to understand, is "sweet".

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This reminded me of the famous Kuniyoshi print of "Cats Suggested by the 52 Stations of the Tokaido Road." Here's a link to a really high rez image in Wikipedia:


This print just sold at auction in London for 38,900 Pounds.


Fantastic! And great image quality too. Thanks!

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