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Meow music: Life-size kitty drum on display at southwest Japan 'cat temple'

A cat-shaped wooden drum is seen at Unrinji temple in the city of Hagi, Yamaguchi Prefecture, on Feb. 22, 2020. (Mainichi/Masahiko Endo)

HAGI, Yamaguchi -- A wooden drum the shape and size of a real feline has gone on display at a "cat temple" in this western Japan city.

Measuring 30 centimeters in length and 25 centimeters in height, the drum called "Tamaneko" was produced by a shop selling Buddhist items in the Fukuoka Prefecture city of Kurume in southwest Japan. It resembles a cat curled up into a ball looking straight forward.

An exhibition of wooden cats representing the final nirvana of Buddha is seen at Unrinji temple in the city of Hagi, Yamaguchi Prefecture, on Feb. 22, 2020. (Mainichi/Masahiko Endo)

The site of worship, Unrinji temple in the Yamaguchi Prefecture city of Hagi, offers prayers for the souls of pets including cats, tropical fish and parrots, and on July 21 each year also holds a memorial service for animals. Chief priest Jisei Sumida, 49, said he "would like to use" the drum when he offers prayers for animals.

Furthermore, wood carvings of cats representing the final nirvana of Buddha are also on display at the temple until March 9. Measuring 1.2 meters in length and 60 centimeters in width, a large wooden cat resembling Buddha is seen lying down in the center of the "cat nirvana." It is surrounded by some 50 other felines, which sculptor Takao Hayashi from the prefectural city of Yamaguchi and others carved out of wood using chainsaws.

A special letter bearing the seal of Unrinji temple is sold for 300 yen during the exhibition period. Admission is free, and the temple is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

(Japanese original by Masahiko Endo, Hagi Local Bureau)

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