For those of you who need a little break from Japanese cute culture and pampered internet stars from the animal kingdom, French photographer Alexandre Bonnefoy’s photobook may be just the ticket. Neko Land: Une vie de chat au Japon (A cat’s life in Japan) reveals the many faces of street cats, communally owned cats, pets, and cat café residents found all over Japan, from Okinawa to Hokkaidō.
Read on to view a large sample of the elegant and expressive work that resulted from his two-year stay, which portrays cats from many walks of life in a frank, but no less loving, manner. As Bonnefoy gives equal importance to their unadorned surroundings, let these felines guide you and immerse yourself in the often overlooked nooks and crannies of the varied communities around Japan.
Though the 248-page photobook includes images of well-groomed kitties in cushy interiors, many others focus on the dirt and debris; derelict alley corners, snippets of graffiti, and corrugated iron that has seen better days color these photographs with a sort of melancholy and poignancy. While some gritty tomcats seem to say, “Hey, we never asked to be photographed,” at times you can’t help but feel the urge to reach in and help. These elements, though, work together to make the occasional glimpses of the tender moments between cats, as well as between them and the humans who take notice, all the more gladdening.
The photobook, published by Éditions Issekinicho, includes French text by Bonnefoy and illustrations by Delphine Vaufrey. Though a couple of used copies can be found on Amazon , residents of Europe can purchase it on the official site for 27.80 euros (US $35.25). If you’re hungry for more, the same link offers a high quality, 53-page online preview!
Sources: Karapaia , Éditions Issekinicho
Images: Éditions Issekinicho