To delight cat lovers everywhere, here are more than 60 irresistible portraits of the Zenlike cats of Japan.
The embodiment of Zen--independent, serene, enlightened--these cats inhabit the temples, shrines, gardens, and parks of Japan. Photographer Yoshiyuki Yaginuma has captured these free spirits in many poses, from meditating in a garden and baring fangs in a hunting stance to frolicking with the family, perching on statues, and curling in repose.In Japan cats have always occupied a special place: the eternal symbol of good luck is a white cat with its paw raised, and ancient screens from centuries past are often graced with a cat. And in the rarified world of Buddhist and Shinto temples, cats have been welcomed for practical reasons. Since the monks eat rice and so do mice, there's more rice for the monks with cats regulating the population.
Fascinated by these Zen cats, Yaginuma regularly visits temples and other places where they reside, and he feels that the cats wait to greet him and his camera. Jana Martin's intriguing commentary discuss the cat in Japanese myth, folklore, and in Zen writings. She pairs the irresistible feline portraits with poems by generations of Zen disciples and monks, who do not assign any human quality to them but praise them for what they are. How perfectly Zenlike after all!