Tempura rice bowl, known in Japanese as 天丼 or 天どん tendon, is a popular dish highlighting some of the best elements of Japanese cuisine. You can appreciate the crisp, lightly fried batter, fresh ingredients, and light, umami-rich tentsuyu sauce over a steaming bowl of Japanese rice.

When a bowl of tendon is served, it often comes with a lid to keep the ingredients hot. The lid also adds to the pleasure of the experience since you'll anticipate the moment when you'll be able to lift it and reveal the tasty contents within.

フォトミー Photo Me, © PIXTA

For the talented Japanese illustrator and animator Misato (@misato08280), who makes absolutely adorable and charming GIF art, often featuring cats, this dish provided a source of inspiration for an adorable new animation she created on the occasion of "Super Cat Day," February 22nd, 2022 (which can be read as nyan nyan nyan nyan nyan, five meows for a Japanese cat).

In a clever play on words connecting tendon and へそ天 hesoten, a term which describes the endearing sight of an animal (usually a cat or dog) sleeping on their back*, Misato imagined something she calls へそ天丼 hesotendon...

* へそ天 hesoten comes from へそ heso, meaning belly button, and 天 ten, short for 天井 tenjō, meaning ceiling. In other words, literally "sleeping with its belly button facing the ceiling."

The animation show us a selection of hesotendon bowls, each one decorated with cats in a traditional design. As the lid of each bowl is opened, we're treated to various cats sleeping on their backs in adorable poses, each one of them replacing a tempura ingredient. There's even a cat wrapped up cozily in a shrimp tempura sleeping blanket.

The super cute GIF was perfect for Super Cat Day, and it elicited reactions from many parts of the world, such as:

  • "Awwww.... These little cuties are all super KAWAII!!!!!"
  • "One hesotendon, please. I want to take one home! (...)"
  • "It's almost too adorable to bear. So soothing to watch..."
  • "I can watch this on loop all day long..."

If Misato's art style looks familiar, you may have seen her GIF animation we introduced before at grape Japan showing how cats perfectly fit into their favorite tight spots, by curling up in ice cream cones and "melting."

To enjoy more of Misato's wonderful art, follow her on Twitter here.

By - Ben K.