::The Bake Neko and Neko Mata::

Bake Neko or Neko Mata

Bakeneko or Neko mata (化け猫, “monster cat”, 猫又)

The bakeneko/nekomata is in Japanese folklore, a cat with supernatural abilities akin to those of the fox or raccoon dog. A cat may become a bakeneko in a number of ways: it may reach a certain age, be kept for a certain number of years, grow to a certain size, or be allowed to keep a long tail. In the last case, the tail forks in two and the bakeneko is then called a nekomata (猫又, ,猫叉, or 猫股 “forked cat”). This superstition may have some connection to the breeding of the Japanese Bobtail.

A bakeneko will haunt any household it is kept in, creating ghostly fireballs, menacing sleepers, walking on its hind legs, changing its shape into that of a human, and even devouring its own mistress in order to shapeshift and take her place. When it is finally killed, its body may be as much as five feet in length. It also poses a danger if allowed into a room with a fresh corpse; a cat is believed to be capable of reanimating a body by jumping over it.

In Japanese folklore, any cat that lives over thirteen years old, reaches one kan (eight pounds) in weight or is allowed to keep a long tail can become a bake-neko ( 化け猫 ) or Ghost Cat (Addis 2001). A bake-neko is a cat that gains paranormal powers after certain circumstances. They also have the ability to eat (bigger or smaller) anything in its way, no matter what it is. Poison is its main food, for example, a certain type of snake (unknown to man). It is rare to see people with a ‘bake-neko’ though some people have been known to see it. The breeding of the Japanese Bobtail may have some connection with this superstition. After a bake-neko tail grows long enough it forks into two tails, then the bake-neko is no longer called a bake-neko, but a neko-mata. Other forms of bake-neko are Maneki-neko (Addis 2001). Most of the stories about the bake-neko are told orally in Japan.


3 Comments Add yours

  1. Hello,

    Could I please use this image to accompany your interview webpage on ABC Radio National?

    Let me know if this is a problem

    Angus Kingston
    RN Online

  2. Penny says:

    Thanks for the heads-up. My two neko are suspiciously silent on the subject.

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