A very furry twelve-legged creature which provides magical transportation for Totoro and his kin, as well as his friends Mei and Satsuki, in the movie My Neighbor Totoro. Its body is hollow and shaped like a bus, complete with cat-fur seats and glassless windows. It has the same huge grin as Totoro, headlight beams shining from its large feline eyes, and rodents with glowing eyes for hazard blinkers.

"Next stop: little sister!"

In Japanese mythology, a cat that lives for a very long time becomes a Bake Neko, gaining the ability to shape-shift. The Catbus is a Bake Neko who was intrigued by the shape of a human bus, and decided to mimic it. Interestingly, the Japanese phrase neko buus translates to "old cat".

At Burning Man in 2001, there was a van made up to look like the Totoro catbus that scampered around the Black Rock desert.

The catbus was completely covered in soft fur. It was closely patterned after the "real thing", kitty stripes and all. On the back, outside, the cat had a firm tail that could seat two to three playa people. In the front, it had a big Cheshire cat smile with giant whiskers, red-eyed rats, and bus route label. (e.g. little sister) It had legs, but moved around on well-hidden wheels. The door had been torn off, and covered in fur, so you could hop in at any time, even while it was moving.

The inside of the catbus was also one hundred percent furry, from floor to ceiling. Couch-like fur seats ran along the edges, so everyone would be facing each other. There was seating for about 10-12 people. The inside was very friendly, (did I mention furry?) and played funky electronic music. In case there was any doubt, a little totoro swung from the rear-view mirror. The cat's face slightly blocked the driver's view, but the driver (and creator) claimed the catbus was street-legal, even in the real world.

I was completely surprised to see the roving catbus appear, sometime after midnight. After riding it, though, I must have had a smile as big as the cat's.

Update: The Burning Man website now has pictures of the catbus. Search for "catbus" in the image gallery.

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