Maneki Neko DIY Light-controlled Synth

A cool “triple maneki neko” converted into a light-sensitive synth with light sensors, LEDs, volume and CV controls. From polwor.2 via Instagram

Resultados de las clases de “Diseño y Manufactura” para @elprimerextranjero !

Dos sensores de luz, perilla de volumen, CV, y luces


I love this! A maneki-neko turned into a DIY electronic musical instrument. I need to make one of these and will definitely be following up with the creators and curators for more. I do regret not seeing this in person as it was at the Center for New Music here in San Francisco, but this was 2020 and we know how that was.

Fortunately, we can all see some scenes from this video show via this link.

Weekend Cat Blogging and Photo Hunt: Point

There are so many interesting ways that one can interpret this week’s Photo Hunt theme of Point. Mathematics and highways come to mind, but this is of course also Weekend Cat Blogging, so as usual we feature cats. First, one of our many maneki nekos points its paw:

And here is Luna pointing while basking in the morning sun:

Both of these photos were taken with the latest lens and film options I got for the Hipstamatic app on the iPhone.

Another Hipstamatic photo on the theme does veer into the realm of highways. Here is one of several studies I did with the freeway entrance shield for the Bay Area’s infamous Interstate 238 for an upcoming article on the highway. It has the customary downward pointing arrow of freeway entrances in California.

Tomorrow (Sunday), we at CatSynth will be hosting the weekly Carnival of the Cats. If you have a feline-themed blog post from the past week, you are welcome to participate. Just visit the handy BlogCarnival submission form or leave a comment below.

Weekend Cat Blogging #350 is hosted by Kashim, Othello and Salome.

The Weekly Photo hunt theme is Point.

As stated above, we are hosting the Carnival of the Cats tomorrow.

And the Friday Ark is at the modulator.

Weekend Cat Blogging and Photo Hunt: Cards

This weekend we are once again combining Weekend Cat Blogging and Photo Hunt. The theme is cards, and we start with an unexpected take on the theme:

I recently came across these older “Smart Media” data cards while cleaning. They’re bigger (and a bit more interesting to photograph) than the current SD cards my current cameras and other devices use, but they are essentially useless. I do have a reader that can read/write them, but no particular reason to do so. Anyone have any ideas?

Here is Luna with some of her past birthday cards:

I believe they are from 2010 and 2007. It’s not Luna’s birthday, but the cards are out because of the recent cleaning (similar to the memory cards).

Weekend Cat Blogging #316 is hosted by pam at Pam’s Sidewalk Shoes.

Photo Hunt #271 is hosted by tnchick. The theme this week is cards.

The Carnival of the Cats will be up tomorrow at When Cats Attack!

And the Friday Ark is at the modulator

Weekend Cat Blogging and Photo Hunt: Foreign

This week’s Photo Hunt theme is foreign. Cats often intersect with my foreign travels, and with the objects that I bring home. Consider the Suzhou painting silk cat and Maneki Neko from Japan in the photo below:

We have seen these items before, in discussions of cats of China and the cats of Tokyo, respectively.

Here, we see Luna near some of our art pieces:

Most of these, including the large watercolor on the left and small metal sculpture, are local. However, the mostly yellow geometric print is foreign. It is by a Cuban artist. I visited Cuba twice in 2001 and purchased this print in the town of Matanzas. The topic of visiting Cuba as an American (and the entire U.S. policy towards Cuba) could fill up an entire article.

Sometimes one may assume something is foreign when it is in fact not. Consider this photo of Luna from December:

The title may be in French and evoke a bygone era in Paris, but it is actually the work of an American artist, Ken Bailey.

We close with some more maneki neko figures:

All of the cat figurines in this photo are from Japan. There is one more cat, however, on the matchbox. This is not foreign, and created by a local artist.

A sad note this weekend. Gattina and family, who regularly host “Cats on Tuesday”, said farewell to their cat Lisa this week. Lisa was a little over eighteen years old, which is a good long life for a cat.  We send them our thoughts.

Weekend Cat Blogging #248 is hosted by Meowza at his blog iMeowza.

Photo Hunt 203: Foreign is hosted by tnchick.

The Carnival of the Cats will be hosted this Sunday by Nikita Cat at meowings of an opinionated pussycat. We also wish Nikita a happy birthday this weekend!

And of course the Friday Ark is at the modulator.

Cats of Tokyo

“He wrote me that in the suburbs of Tokyo there is a temple consecrated to cats. I wish I could convey to you the simplicity—the lack of affectation—of this couple who had come to place an inscribed wooden slat in the cat cemetery so their cat Tora would be protected. No she wasn’t dead, only run away. But on the day of her death no one would know how to pray for her, how to intercede with death so that he would call her by her right name. So they had to come there, both of them, under the rain, to perform the rite that would repair the web of time where it had been broken.”

I remembered this scene from Chris Marker’s film Sans Soleil of the temple in the suburbs of Tokyo that was dedicated to cats, and when I knew that I was in fact going to be in Tokyo for a couple of days, I decided I would find this temple. It is in fact the Gotoku-ji Temple in the Setagaya ward in the western suburbs of Tokyo.

It really was tucked away in a relatively quiet residential neighborhood, easily missed if one did not know where to find the gate. The temple grounds were very quiet, with very few visitors other than myself.

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There is a small building near the large tower in the photo above. I believe it is a side temple of sorts. Behind it is a set of shelves containing hundreds of maneki nekos, or beckoning cats, left as offerings. Indeed, Gotoku-ji claims to be the birthplace of the popular cat figurines.

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This was definitely the temple from Sans Soleil, I had succeeded in finding it. And having come this far, I spent a little time to linger in this small, quiet place.

Gotoku-ji is not the only site that claims to be the birthplace of the maneki neko. In Akasuka, not far from the famed Senso-ji temple, is the Imado Shrine.

Like Gotoku-ji, the shrine was tucked away in an alley in a quiet residential neighborhood. It was quite small, but had enough space for gardens, trees and statues leading up to the main building:

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Inside on the altar is a pair of large cats:

The one on the left has spots and is the male cat, while the one on the right is the female cat, and together the lucky cats of Imado are supposed bring good fortune to couples or those seeking love. Images of the pair of cats can be found throughout the shrine:

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The wooden plaques tied below the image of the cats contain wishes left by visitors. This is a common practice at temples and shrines, but it was specifically here that I chose to leave such a wish myself. Another common practice is selecting a fortune from a box near the shrine – at the Imado temple, each fortune comes with a tiny cat figure. I did get one of these, and of course a few ceramic cats from both Imado and Gotoku-ji.

One cannot help but think a little bit about spiritual things after visiting spiritual places, and a coincidence that occurred soon after leaving Imado contributed. Heading back south towards the Senso-ji temple, I saw a small narrow park, really a stone path lined with trees, and decided to walk in that direction. About halfway, a saw a woman with an open cat carrier, and inside was a black cat with green eyes!

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Although we had almost no words in common except basic greetings and “neko”, I was able to express my appreciation of her cat, and showed photos of Luna. “Lady?”, she asked in English. I nodded. She pointed to her own cat and smiled “Boy!”

The symbol of the cat is ubiquitous in Tokyo, spiritually as well as commercially:

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In the image above, we see a shop carrying not only an impressive array of maneki neko, but some examples of Japan’s other famous feline symbol, Hello Kitty. I have approximately zero interest in Hello Kitty, but during my trip I did build up a small collection of maneki neko, of which a subset are shown below:

Included are one of the simple ceramics from Gotoku-ji, the tiny cat that came with the fortune at Imado, and a couple of black cats that I found.

Beyond the black cat in the park, I did not see very many live cats during my short visit. Apparently, this is an issue from Japanese ailurophiles as well. There are now several cat cafes around Tokyo, where for a fee one can spend an hour or so interacting with the cafe’s very friendly (and very clean) cats. I did see a cat cafe in Akiabara (an area which will be the focus of one of our next articles), but I did not have time to check it out. However, Akiabara, the center of electronics and anime in Tokyo, will itself be the topic of an upcoming article here at CatSynth.