Every February 22, cat lovers in Japan celebrate National Cat Day. A day dedicated to cats is not unique to Japan, but different countries do so on different dates. For instance, the US's National Cat Day is on October 29th and Canada's is on August 9th.
More than 30 years ago, in 1987, the Executive Cat Day Committee in Japan chose February 22 after a poll of over 9,000 cat lovers. The date 2-22 can be pronounced ni-ni-ni, which sounds close the Japanese equivalent of a cat's meow, nyan-nyan-nyan. Hundreds of cat lovers gathered to reflect on the extraordinary virtues of cats and offer prayers for their pets' longevity.
This year, 2022, is particularly special because the year can be said cat-like, as in, nyao-nyan-nyan, adding extra feline charm to this special day.
Everyone seemed to have gotten into the spirit. At our local library, patrons are encouraged to draw cat faces on cat shaped papers.
The Yomiuri kids' newspaper featured cats on its front page this week.
Pop up shops selling cat themed novelty items can be found in major train stations. I bought an adorable postcard from one.
Across the country, cat lovers are posting photos of their furry friends on social media, some dressing up similarly. Business establishments have gotten into the spirit by selling food and non-food items with cat designs.
Cats are probably the most popular pets in Japan. They have the amazing ability to reduce human stress and anxiety. Petting a furry cat releases calming brain chemicals, lowers blood pressure, and slows your heart rate. Purring is one of the most comforting and soothing sounds in the world, known to help people recover quicker from injuries. Perhaps this is particularly significant now as we continue to weather the stressful conditions of a prolonged pandemic.