The bakeneko (“monstrous cat”) is but one of the many, many yokai of Japanese folklore. For centuries, Japanese people suspected that cats held mystical powers – due, it appears, both to cats’ aloof behavior and to the animals’ yokai-like physical features, such as their slit eyes and ability to move around silently. Even today, some elderly Japanese folks still harbor superstitions about cats.

One ability of the bakeneko, legend has it, is the ability to walk around on two legs (which we’ve actually seen demonstrated in real-life), which makes the yokai a fairly easy choice for cosplay. In fact, there’s a whole festival dedicated to bakeneko celebration and cosplay! And, before you ask, yes, of course we’re going to it.


The Kagurazaka Bakeneko Festival appears to be an annual get-together of bakeneko enthusiasts, who dress up as all manner of bipedal, clothes-wearing bakeneko to celebrate the monstrous animals of folk tales.

There are essentially no dress-code or attendance requirements at the Bakeneko Festival: Attendees can be any age, gender or nationality and can dress as any type of cat, from the Japanese-flavored bakeneko, to more western-influenced kitty creatures, like the Cheshire Cat, to, well… just regular old housecats.


Before 2015, the Bakeneko Festival was just a parade, but organizers, it seems, decided to pull out all the stops and turn it into a full-on, all-day affair this year.

But, why Kagurazaka? Well, first and foremost, there’s the fact that the small Tokyo town is known for its funky vibe, but it’s also the setting of the famous Japanese novel, Wagahai ha Neko de Aru (I am a Cat). The opening line of the novel, “Wagahai ha neko de Aru. Namae ha mada nai,” (“I am a cat. I don’t have a name yet.”) is a well-known refrain among Japanese people of all ages. The eccentric novel, written from the perspective of the titular feline, may well have something to do with modern Japan’s cat obsession.


Since we know there’s no shortage of cat-loving RocketNews24 readers, we decided to compile a quick gallery of the huge variety of bakeneko costumes that were on display at last year’s parade. The festival is open to all comers, so if you’re in town this year on October 18, be sure to stop by — but don’t forget your whiskers!














Images: Official Facebook page
[ Read in Japanese ]