Anonymous collector’s exhibition with cat motifs makes the fans purr



FUJISAWA, Kanagawa Prefecture – Lots of secrets surround the collector behind an ongoing exhibit at Fujisawa City Art Space here, but one thing is certain: whoever it is likes cats, by and large.

The anonymous collector, named Manekineko-tei, collected around 630 works of art featuring cats for over 40 years, including paintings, prints, and sculptures of all ages and cultures, 130 of which are on display in the gallery.

Manekineko-tei began collecting artwork on the subject of cats after purchasing “Girl with a Cat,” an original painting by Leonard Foujita, and has collected a variety of artworks, from large multi-color “Nishiki-e” prints from the Edo period (1603-1867) to paintings and sculptures by modern artists.

Manekineko-tei’s treasure trove includes works by Utagawa Hiroshige, Utagawa Kuniyoshi, Sadao Tsubaki, Satoshi Yabuuchi, Aubrey Beardsley and Leonor Fini.

It contains “Nitta Neko”, a popular cat motif that was used as a talisman by silk farmers in the Edo period to drive away rats.

“Nitta Neko” by Iwamatsu (Nitta) Yoshizumi was used by silk farmers as a talisman to drive away rats. (Provided by Fujisawa City Art Space)

Since 2008, exhibitions of selected works of art from the collection have been held across Japan.

Manekineko-tei parted ways with the collection three years ago.

“I’ve reached the age where I need to think about the future of the pieces I treasure,” said the collector.

Manekineko-tei decided to donate his collection on condition that all pieces in a warehouse are properly kept together and occasionally shown to the public.

It took two years for the collector to select Fujisawa City Council as the recipient of the donation.

“I am happy because a lot of people will love and enjoy them,” said Manekineko-tei.

The first part of the summer exhibition “Natsu Neko-biyori” runs until July 25th. For the second part, which runs from July 29th to August 29th, some exhibits will be replaced.

The Fujisawa City Art Space is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. (last admission: 6:30 p.m.) and closed on Mondays (except August 9), between July 26 and 28 and August 10.

Admission is 200 yen ($ 1.80) for adults and 100 yen for high school and college students.

For inquiries, visit the official website at (


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