When Buddhism was imported into Japan around the 500s, the philosophy was accompanied by a few furry friends: cats, who were brought along to protect valuable scriptures from mice. Since then, felines have made appearances in classical Japanese literature like The Pillow Book and The Tale of Genji. They’ve also been welcomed into Japanese homes, not only for their functionality, but for their mystical charm, bewitching behavior and, yes, of course, their cuteness.
So it’s no surprise that, artists, even back then, knew that depictions of cats would sell well. Those lovable pre-internet cats are now the subject of an upcoming exhibition. The Shoto Museum of Art in Shibuya, which just underwent a drastic facelift, is dedicating their first post-renovation show to ねこ・猫・ネコ (basically, “cats” written 3 different ways). The show open April 5 and runs till May 18, 2014.