A beautiful relationship between grandma and her cat in Japan

This charming story is of Grandma Misao and Fukumaru, her darling, white cat in Japan. They were inseparable. Fukumaru passed away in 2015. Misao lived a simple country life with Fukumaru constantly by her side as the photos by her granddaughter Ihara Miyoko show. She published two photo books which are available on Amazon

A beautiful relationship between grandma and her cat
A beautiful relationship between grandma and her cat. This is Grandma Misao and Fukumaru, her darling, white cat in Japan. Photo: her granddaughter: Ihara Miyoko.

Ihara Miyoko lived with her grandma and she admits to being somewhat envious of her grandmother's charming, simple life. It was a great idea to chronicle her life in photographs. They were a wonderful subject for a photo-essay. The books became bestsellers.

It was the otherworldliness of her life with appealed to many in contrast to the noisy, rush of modern life 'suffered' by the vast majority. Ihara Miyoko began her project in 2003. Three years afterwards a white male kitten was born in a barn and he was adopted by the family and become grandma's constant companion.

This is Grandma Misao and Fukumaru, her darling, white cat in Japan. Photo: her granddaughter: Ihara Miyoko.
This is Grandma Misao and Fukumaru, her darling, white cat in Japan. Photo: her granddaughter: Ihara Miyoko.

Both Fukumaru and grandma were hard of hearing. White cats are not infrequently deaf. The deafness is caused by the gene which removes pigment from the hair strands rendering them white.

CLICK THIS FOR SOME PAGES ON WHITE CATS

They often looked into each other's eyes to communicate. Miyoko said: "Fukumaru is so happy and contented at my grandmother’s side. When I take a picture of the two of them together it's like I'm photographing myself as a little girl."

The photos were taken on the Bōsō Peninsula in Chiba Prefecture, not far east of Tokyo. The photos paint a picture of a vanishing Japanese way of life.

When I see the way my grandmother is living her life, I really feel that she has a kind of strength that my generation simply can’t match. She gets up with the sun, and goes to bed when it sets. She loves her cat and the vegetables in her field like her own children. If her vegetables come out well, she’s happy. She doesn’t have to worry about questions like ’what is the point of my work?’ Her way of life fills me with admiration and a sort of envy.

A rare aspect of the photo-essay is the long period of time over which it was compiled. It gives it a timeless quality. The photo-essay will become more precious as this way of life becomes ever rarer.

The following is the Amazon synopsis:

Miyoko Ihara graduated from the Nippon Photography Institute in 2002. Around that time, she began photographing her grandmother, Misao, in order to document her life together with her stalwart companion, an odd-eyed white cat named Fukumaru. This touching and beautiful photo book captures the everyday life of elderly Misao and her steadfast feline friend following the passing of her husband one summer. The black-and-white images reflect both the grief of loss but also the hope offered by new life, in the form of a litter of small white kittens. It is a touching portrayal of an elderly woman living a quiet and solitary life of work and enjoyment of nature, though always with her cats.

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