A stray cat gave birth to kittens in a barn on Ihara Misao’s countryside property in Chiba Prefecture, east of Tokyo. A white kitten from the litter was adopted by Misao, and she named her Fukumaru which means ‘good fortune’ and ‘circle’ in Japanese.
The two have become completely inseparable – always by each other’s side.
Whatever Misao is doing, Fukumaru is right by her side, keeping her company and keeping her entertained.
In 2000, Misao’s granddaughter, Inhara Miyoko began taking photos of her grandmother, as she wanted to compile a photo diary of her life.
The results show a beautiful, simplistic life.
Ihara said, “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.”
The grandmother and her cat are happy with their life together.
They celebrate each of Misao’s birthdays with a cat-shaped birthday cake.
Ihara says that both cat and grandmother are hard of hearing, so they often look into each other’s eyes to communicate.
As you can see, having Fukumaru has brought Misao so much joy in her life.
A collection of photographs of the two can be found in Ihara Miyoko’s book, Miyoko Ihara: Misao the Big Mama and Fukumaru the Cat.
This is a beautiful friendship – two companions who love and bring joy to one another.
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