Captain's Cabin

Pirate Lord of the Platinum Coast
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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Beckoning Cat


This is a "Maneki Neko" or Japanese Beckoning cat.

Many Japanese business people wouldn't think of having a restaurant, store, bar, etc. without the presence of a beckoning cat. Maneki Neko's always have at least one raised forepaw but otherwise they can take many forms. A cat wearing a bib and a bell are typical sights in Chinese restaurants. The cat is waving to us, asking us to come into the shop or asking good fortune to visit the establishment.

The origins of Maneki Neko date back several centuries. The source of its power are explained with many tales. The most prevalent tale involves a poor temple in the woods: A traveler takes shelter under a nearby tree during a storm. A cat appears and beckons the traveler to follow it to avoid the storm in the temple. As soon as the traveler follows the cat, the tree and the spot he had been in are struck by lightning. Because the cat has saved him and brought him to the temple, the traveler and his family become patrons of the temple and bring it fame and wealth.

Others believe a similar tale involving a store or inn. There is also a story about a cat saving its owner from a snake--even when beheaded! Another cat loses its head when its owner catches it stealing gold coins. However, we learn that the cat was taking the coins to an ill and destitute fishmonger who had befriended the cat and needed money until its recovery. He is saved by the cat's coins. Therefore, some believe, Maneki Neko should carry coins or have coins dangling from their bibs to ensure wealth.

More prosaic origins may be tied to an agricultural belief that cats kept pests away from crops or satinworms and thus aided prosperity of the family. Other sources hint that the raised paw might be a coded phallic symbol because the cats are first found around the time when common but more graphic phallic good luck symbols were banned from inns and gambling houses by western-influenced Japanese governments.

There are many variations on the Maneki Neko and you may see the left paw or the right paw raised. Generally speaking, it is believed that the left paw beckons for people (customers) while the right attracts money or good fortune.

Some, however, believe the opposite!

vine line

Last night I conducted gravity fee experiments from the top of the Fridge. Bean was not really happy with this, as a number of items that were up there ended up on the floor. It was all in the interest of science, you understand.

I have determined that there are no gravity fee zones surrounding the Fridge unless it is right under where the radio is.

I did not push the radio off because it is too big and heavy for me to move.

I did however push something in front of the radio and then off the top of the fridge in the area where the radio would have fallen, but it too hit the floor, so I'm fairly certain that area has gravity as well.

Purrrrrhaps I will check from the top of the bookcase next.


Gemini said...

I expect it was good you did not push the clock radio off! I think Momma would be very mad if I did those sorts of experiments!

Captain Jack and Dante said...

Our Mommy has two Maneki Nekos - a big one on a high shelf we cannot reach and a smaller one on the clock radio. We have considered using that one to conduct a gravity experiment but Mommy always yells at us when we try to knock it off.

Gretchen said...

That is a great looking cat and great story about it. Thanks.

I like to play gravity sometimes, too. Especially on the bookcases.
I used to play gravity on the fridge when I was smaller. Too many plants up there now.


PB & J said...

Mom gets really mad when we do gravity experiments, but boy is it fun!

michico*Adan said...

Well, I call it fortune cat :)~~

Thanks for sharing this story~!