Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Wonderful World of The Perlorian Cats, or Nameneko Cats of Japan!

If you've never seen or heard of the Perlorian Cats, hold on to your whiskers because these are some of the cutest and wackiest cat photos you'll ever see! Join me as we navigate the wonderful world of the Perlorian Cats, or the Nemaneko kitties of Japan! But be careful, for these darling photos may influence you to go out and buy some clothes of your own, and dress up your kitty! Trust me, it's probably not a good idea, so lets enjoy some photos together and leave the dressing up to the professionals!

The Perlorian or Nameneko cats were a hugely popular series of cat photos taken in Japan during the 1980’s. Nameneko is translated into English as the hobby of dressing up kittens in costumes and photographing them in miniature sized sets and backdrops. Perlorian means transforming something seemingly “normal” into something seemingly “abnormal.” Nameneko means “unlickable” or as the slang goes “You won't lick us!” Thus the Perlorian cats were regularly referred to as the Nameneko cats, or the Namen Nayo cats. 

The Perlorian cats were made famous by the tireless work of an artist known as Satoro Tsudo. As the story goes, the Nameneko cats came to be in 1980 when a young Tsudo found a homeless kitten at a local dry cleaner. Tsudo decided to take the kitten home, despite his distrust in cats (since they constantly harassed his beloved birds). With not much thought involved, Tsudo generically named his new kitten “Matakichi,” after the dry cleaners in which he found the kitten.

Supposedly, Matakichi started playing with some doll clothes that Tsudo’s girlfriend left at his home. Seeing that they were the same size as the kitten, Tsudo got the hair brained idea of dressing up the kitten and taking its photo, thus, the Namen Nayo kittens were born! 

The following year, a poster featuring Matakichi was printed, appearing to be dressed as a "Tsuppan" or translated, a Japanese delinquent. Matakichi is dressed in an unbuttoned school uniform with rolled up sleeves and a belt (a real rebel!) In the poster, a motorcycle antenna banner reads: "All Japan Fast Feline Federation...You Won't lick Us!" This poster instantly fuels a Nameneko craze that eventually takes over the country! 

Over 500 different novelty items are produced, including books, watches, posters, and even a fake driver's license! This license says that this cat lives in Bonito City, and states "Do not use catnip while driving!" 

The task of photographing a Nameneko cat is an elaborate ordeal. A patient crew shares the responsibility of dressing, preparing props and sets, and managing to get the kitty’s attention while they are being photographed. Each cat can be posed for up to 10 minutes at a time before they become restless and wonder off. (Just like a cat) A cat is only photographed once or twice a week, as to not cause stress. Understandably, a successful photo session produces one or two descent photos. 

Namen Nayo cats may look like their standing up, but they are not. They are actually sitting on their hind quarters and are gently propped up while the photographer quickly takes his shot. This helps explain the importance of training a kitten at a very young age. Tsudo saw the advantage of casting kittens that were “trainable” and young, versus adult cats that are more set in their ways. The perfect candidate for a Namen Nayo model is a 50 to 80 day old kitten with a friendly disposition. After a few photo sessions, the kitten is retired and cared for by Tsuda and his team. Matakichi, the original Namen Nayo, lived a long and comfy life. She had a few kittens of her own, and is said to have lived to the ripe old age of 20!

As any animal lover can tell you, cats do what they want, and if a kitten is unhappy or feeling distress, you would immediately see it in their body language. That being said, these adorable photos do not appear to show any form of animal mistreatment or abuse. The kitten’s hilarious costumes are made out of a one piece suit that fastens in the back. They are made to have plenty of room so the kitten can move around freely in-between shoots.

Please enjoy this adorably hilarious video of the Nameneko cats in their own music video!

If you liked to know more about the Perlorian cats, or Nameneko cats, check out their official web page! Its in Japanese, but can be enjoyed by anyone!

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