Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Legendary Origins of Maneki Neko

Part 2 - Legendary Origins

There are many legends explaining origins of Maneki Neko. The following would be some of them. The Temple Cat, Tama: Once, during a heavy thunderstorm, a wealthy feudal lord (some claim he is a merchant and others a Samurai) seek shelter under the tree near Gotoku-ji temple (Western Tokyo) and saw the temple priest's cat, Tama beckoning to him. He went to the direction of the cat and moments later the tree was struck by lightning. This incident resulted in him and priest becoming good friends. As a matter of time, the temple became very prosperous. After the cat died, the first Maneki Neko was made in its honor.

Gotokugi - Grave of the Cat

A Courtesan: Usugumo was a courtesan living in Yoshiwara of Eastern Tokyo who had a cat that was she loved very much. One night, this cat tugged at her kimono persistently. Seeing this, the owner of the brothel, believed the cat was bewitched and cut its head off. The head of the cat however flew to the ceiling killing a snake at instant, which was already at any ready moment to strike Usugumo. This devastated Usugumo and to cheer her up, one of a customer made a cat out of wood that resembled her pet as a gift. Eventually this became the popular Maneki Neko.


An Old Woman: In Imado (Eastern Tokyo) there was once an old woman forced to sell her cat due to extreme poverty. However, the cat appeared into her dreams and told her to make its image in clay. She did as per instructed and sold the statue. Soon she made more and it became very sell-able that she soon became prosperous and wealthy. This in turn led to the legendary origins of Maneki Neko.



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