Micchi Jay’s photography tells a story, the story of the alley cats, how they live and how they survive. She tells us: “I don’t really do any of the fancy, cute kind of photography, but still, some people think that those photos are cute or comforting. Kawaii itself could be art as long as you can capture the cat’s personality… Those are the cats I mainly see and take photos of, and I could not say “Kawaii” first, I would say “Ganbatte! (Good luck)” first, then Kawaii…
My photos show the proof of these cats’ existence; unlike house cats, if I don’t take a photo of them there would not be any proof that those cats even existed! No, I cannot take all of Japan’s alley cats proof of living, but at least for the ones that I meet, I want to keep some kind of memorial that those cats did exist… and lived. And through my photos, viewers usually get emotional or even cry… some smile, so I think cats can touch people’s hearts, and hopefully in this world people will pay more attention to animals that have been treated with cruelty or have been neglected!”
Micchi Jay usually goes to the same spot every day for many years in order to take pictures. She finds the cats she wants to shoot, not by their looks, but if they catch her attention by how she sees them living, or by their personality, and then she immediately starts shooting.
From her perspective cats are quite spiritual. They don’t do anything to please people by wagging their tale like a dog or try to get on your good side; but they do please you just by being there. Micchi Jay adds: “How spiritual is that! It is like having a power stone or healing music… Cats can have that effect on people for those who let cats be themselves!”
To illustrate her statements, Micchi Jay tells us two personal stories about one of her cats, CHLOE, a beautiful black female, and CHIKO, the alley cat by the fish market.
Micchi Jay spent 17 years with Chloe. Micchi Jay remembers: “During my hardest times, such as having surgery for my cancer, Chloe stayed right by my side on my bed; she did not go use the bathroom or eat all day but stayed with me. She knew I was sick and she knew I was scared. Chloe was also very sick at the end of her life but I had to go away on a business trip. My friend took care of her while I was away, and when I came home, she was so happy to see me, and the very next day she passed away… With her own force, she waited for me to see me one more time… With that experience, I knew for sure that cats have some kind of spiritual powers. ”
The second story is the one of Chiko, the alley cat by the fish market. That day, Chiko would not let Micchi Jay go home. Once the photographer started to leave, the cat came right after her. Chiko was very sick and could not really move, yet Chiko tried to follow Micchi Jay who thinks at that moment: “The cat knew it would be goodbye forever, because even with his pain, he came out from his hiding space and tried to follow me… Chiko would not let me leave this day… his way of saying good bye…I knew then, he would not last long… and that was the last photo of Chiko.”
Micchi Jay adds: “Every time I see these photos, I get very emotional, how we could just feel each other eye to eye (lens).”
The photographer concludes: “Chiko was abandoned by heartless human beings. Still, he didn’t hate humans. He still trusted humans and trusted me… I think this photo shows all.”
© Micchi Jay