Cats have a long history as subjects of stories and artworks in Japan and were particularly popular in kabuki plays and ukiyo-e prints. It's believed that the animals were first introduced to Japan during the Yayoi Period (200 B.C.-A.D. 250) and became fashionable as domestic pets for the upper class during the Heian Period (794-1185). By the Edo Period (1603-1868) they were being depicted as both auspicious and ominous creatures that could bring about blessings and hardships.
This exhibition looks at ukiyo-e prints and maneki-neko (fortune cats), while tracing the history of cat booms in Japan. (Yukari Tanaka)