The C.O. Guide to World Cuisine

Any country can set an elegant table, but few can match the Japanese for ritual.  According to custom, one says itadakimasu (“I receive”) before starting a meal, then dries one’s hands on the hot towel provided.  And no Japanese table is completely set until the arrival of the hashi neko, or chopsticks cat.

The chopsticks cat can trace its origins to the stern imperial courts of the 8th century, in which specially-trained cats would guard the chopsticks of the emperor and empress, and scratch anyone else who dared reach for them.


Domo arigato, Joanna P.



  1. Von Zeppelin says:

    Sadly, as American fast-food culture has permeated Japanese life, this elegant and formal creature has been largely supplanted by the Spork Weasel.

  2. I’d like to go on the record as saying that I had an award winning witty comment to post, then I read Von Zeppelin’s and now all I can say is “Spork Weasel! SNORT!”

  3. Katiedid says:

    If I could just get my cats to stop chewing on the chopstick I would be happy… :-/

  4. I’ve got SIX of these specially trained cats.

    And Von Zeppelin–good on you! Spork weasel!!!!!111!!!

  5. Starlinguk says:

    Thank you, NomTom, that was very …. informative.

  6. Starlinguk says:

    P.S. Can Von Zeppelin do the doodahs when NomTom’s off sick?

  7. All I see is kitty in a bowl, ready for delicious nomming 😀

  8. OK, this thread is over, Von Zep-isn’t travel just so enriching? I mean, how else would you have witnessed the Spork Weasel? I do believe this is a 5 start day for the Zeppelin. Next picture, please.

  9. hon glad says:

    The secret of enlightenment is written in the paterns of kitty’s coat.

  10. could you pass the soy mouse?

    the one with the green top, please

  11. Oh I love chopsticks! Especially as a duet! Or ragtime! (cracks knuckles, waggles fingers)

  12. zeldapie says:

    SQUEEEEE! This chopsticks kitteh is the spittin’ image of my Nora!
    I’m gonna get Nora some chopsticks, too, and teach her to guard them.

  13. charliewabba says:

    Travel is so broadening. I will never forget the leisurely family-style dinners served on our eco-tour of Costa Rica, made even more leisurely by the serving spoon sloths.
    Ahh, memories…

  14. Omedeto gozaimasu!!! Oishii desu!!!

  15. It never fails. You set out your best china, crystal, and silver with cute swan shapped napkins then Dining Table Dog hears the 1st guest ring the doorbell.

  16. Chopstick Boy! Issun-bōshi! 🙂

  17. The refined Chopstick cat waits patiently for the serving of the rice .. but the Spork Weasle he hangs out under the table at the taco bell waiting to nip your knees

  18. The cat hair in the ramen or rice is a VERY special condiment.

  19. CW, i’m in awe of your patience. The serving-spoon sloths nearly drove me to distraction; their spoon-delivery was so unbearably slow. Thank goodness the wine-goblet coatis were there to keep me busy while I waited.

  20. Now I want a Spork Weasel……

  21. cheesybird says:

    Spork Weasel would be a great username.

  22. charliewabba says:

    @cath – yes, thank goodness for the wine goblet coatis and the yucca chip conures. Even if we didn’t get many chips for ourselves, they were fun to watch.

  23. BeckyMonster says:

    “AKIRA!!!” is what I prefer to yell prior to eating…

  24. Aren’t those chinese chopsticks?
    I believe Japanese chopsticks would have pointed ends to eat with.

  25. that is a most gorgeous photograph. Looks alot like my SuzyWuzy… but she is the guardian of the sewing room & all the bobbins within.

  26. Hashi neko guards my food and cutlery under the most watchful eye. *swipe swipe*

  27. Matchink people! Matchink! You don’t think it’s a coincidence that they choice that black striped bamboo pattern?

  28. Starlinguk says:

    It’s a blue striped bamboo pattern.

    [Either way, I’ve added the tags now… – Ed.]

  29. berthaservant says:

    I’ve been watching a lot of Ozu films recently. This kitteh is so Ozu.

  30. Kristabelle says:

    I read CO just for the comments. 🙂

    [OK, you’re on the bus. 😉 – Ed.]

  31. “it’s hard to use chopsticks without thumbs!!!”

  32. Mary (the first) says:

    This will teach me to have more faith in the CO peeps and posters. I was thinking “MATCHINGKS!” and did not even look at the tag. And already, I was beaten to the punch by Kar and then Ed. who has added the Matchingks! I should have known it would be there. Meanwhile.. this kitteh is strongly reminiscent of the beautiful Maru but on a smaller, younger scale. Perhaps this little one will grow up to be a rice bowl/chopstick protector AND large box assailant.

  33. w00t, w00t!!!! Speshully Trained Chopsticks Cats with origins in Japanese antiquity!!
    (It’s not that the cats were able to be trained that amazes me: it’s that the cats ALLOWED themselves to be trained; actually it would not have been out of the realm of possibility to imagine a cat as Major-Domo of the Imperial Court even in the 8th century: either that or have the dual role of Chief Mowse Catcher & Chopstick Cat in Chief……) 😛

  34. Anyone else see the photographer in the reflection just to the left of the kitty? I think? Maybe?

  35. LOL 🙂 Typical 🙂 You set out your favorite bowl with chopsticks and kitty thinks it is for him/her, the little stinker 🙂

  36. To Sher: That was my fail actually in not removing some white paper from behind the mat before I too the picture. ^_^;

    Thank you Cute Overload for posting my baby!

  37. kibblenibble says:

    Joanna, your kitteh is gorgeous, your photograph perfect. 🙂

  38. Raemie L. says:

    Cute kitteh, really like the stripe-y-ness.

  39. Raemie L. says:

    Watashi wa hashi neko. Iie! Hashi neko DESU. *bats paw* Tabemono ja arimasen. Oishii ja nai yo!

    “I’m a chopsticks cat.” “Watashi wa [insert name of food]” phrase is also a way to order food.
    “Nooo!” I AM a chopsticks cat (my attempt at implying “not your food order”; it’s probably used awkwardly). I’m not food. I’m not tasty!
    Putting my very basic Japanese skiiillz to use… I’ll go away in shame now.

  40. puddlepeppers says:

    Tune:”Moon River” (sort-of)
    Spork Weasels, first at taco bell…
    they ring the thank-you bell
    at LJ Fish…
    their paws are prehensile…
    they’ll guard your utensils…
    a happy meal weasel
    is every kid’s wish…
    cause the weasel is posable…
    the spork is disposable…
    So grabby-hands a spork with your dish.

  41. Not That Mike The Other Mike says:

    (bowing to puddlepeppers)

    And “spork” is one of my favorite words, too. 😉

  42. Pretty kitty!

    Chopsticks… ahh. Now I miss my favourite Tibetan thukpa and mo-mos. 😦

  43. puddlepeppers says:

    NTMTOM…Thanks for the encouragement about the song in honor of
    the Von Zeppelin “Spork Weasel”. I am surrounded by all you brilliant writers.

  44. Von Zeppelin says:

    puddlepeppers–The song is dazzling! The album cover will feature Andy Williams holding the eponymous implement, sitting in a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise with a dish of cole slaw. Wearing a nice cardigan.

    (That’s Andy wearing the cardigan, not the restaurant, the spork or the cole slaw)

  45. Oh chopsticks cat, how did I live without you?

  46. Puddlepeppers, you are a “puddle wonderful.”

  47. charliewabba says:

    puddlepeppers FTW!
    (where’s Theo with his “yay” link?)

  48. There’s always teh Glossary, CharlieW. But I fixed it this time. 😉

  49. The Heat says:

    this is a gorgeous, stripey photo, actually. Well done!

  50. danielie says:

    I love this picture.

    Thanks, CO. If I ever go to Japan, I will refuse to eat without my customary Chopsticks Cat.

  51. Oh! no I’m already hungry.
    Excuse me again, what am I suppose to do with these sticks?
    🙂 🙂 🙂