Regarding Kaori Shoji’s June 12 article, “It’s a dog’s life when you wear a cat on your head,” on the Bilingual page: There are some misleading comments about Japan and the Japanese in this article that I think need to be cleared up:
* Shamisen strings are made of silk, not catgut, although shamisen skin is usually made with tanned cat hide (or dog hide if cheap). Moreover, I’ve never seen a “decapitated cat head” displayed in a shamisen shop, even before 1960.
* I’ve never heard the word “hebi” (snake) associated with the characteristic of being stingy.
* “Kappa” do not “expire” when the “sara” (dish) on the head dries up; they simply lose energy and revive when the sara becomes moist again.
* “Neko-kaburi” does not mean “has a cat on the head.” Instead, it’s more more like “being in cat’s disguise” or “donning a cat’s mask,” because the verb “kaburu” normally means “to wear” as a mask.
* I’ve never heard the phrase “saru no yo ni suru” (do like a monkey) used as an established idiom. I have known “saru mane,” but it carries a completely different connotation.