If you’ve got a dog and you want to take it to Japan with you, then you’re in luck! The Japanese love dogs! They even have dog cafes where you take your dog to eat with you!
Or perhaps you’re more of a cat person? They’ve got cat cafes too! But they’re a little different than the doggie version. Cat cafes are a place that are full of cats that you can pet and play with.
But the differences between American cats and dogs, and Japanese cats and dogs don’t end there. They even speak differently!
We’ll talk about dogs first, and then move on to cats!
What is the Japanese Word for Dog? 犬
The Japanese word for “dog” is 犬 (inu) and it’s pronounced like “ee-new.” The kanji for it looks almost identical to the kanji for “big” 大 except that it has an extra dash added to it. Perhaps the ear of the dog?
In America, dogs say woof! woof! or bark! bark! but in Japan they say ワン！ワン！ (wan! wan!)
In fact, a pretty common name for a puppy in Japan is ワンちゃん (wan chan) which is a combination of the sound a dog makes ワン, and the name suffix ちゃん.
Some of the compound words that use 犬 as a part of it are:
- 愛犬 (aiken) = Pet dog
- 番犬 (banken) = Guard dog
- 野犬 (yaken) = Stray dog
- 猟犬 (ryouken) = Hunting dog
What is the Japanese Word for Cat? 猫
The Japanese word for “cat” is 猫 (neko) and it’s pronounced like “neh-ko.” If you take a look at the left radical in the kanji, you’ll see that it is actually the radical for dog. It gets modified when it’s used as a part of other kanji.
So rather than saying “meow!“, the cats in Japan actually say ニャン (nyan).
You see this used in a lot of jokes in anime and manga. Often times a character that looks or act similar to a cat has the word ニャン somewhere in their name. That, or they will say the word ニャン at the end of each of their sentences.
Some of the compound words that use 猫 as a part of it are:
- 飼い猫 (kai neko) = Pet cat
- 山猫 (yama neko) = Wild cat
- 野良猫 (nora neko) = Stray cat
- 黒猫 (kuro neko) = Black cat
Tashirojima – The Island of Cats
Did you know that there is an island off the coast of Japan that is completely overrun by cats? It’s called 田代島 Tashirojima and there are more cats living on it than there are people. In fact, the cats outnumber the people by 6-1!
Sorry, no pets dogs allowed!
And don’t worry about any black cats crossing your path on this island. In the Japanese culture, cats are considered to bring good luck, money, and good fortune to you!
There is even a shrine for the cats! It is called 猫神社 (neko jinja). Be sure to stop by and pay your respect to the cats when your there! 😉
What do you think? Is an island ruled by cats crazy?
Then how about eleven of them!? Yep, one cat island wasn’t enough! Read about all of them and check out the pictures here!
Sorry dog lovers, no such luck when it comes to the canine side of things 🙁
Now I want to hear from you! What do you think about cats and their islands? Would you like it if there were doggie islands too? Let me know what you think with a comment below!