Friday, April 25, 2008


Maneki Neko

The above image is familiar to anyone who has spent time in Japan: Maneki Neko, or the Beckoning Cat. The damn things are everywhere you go.

According to Wikipedia, “To Americans and Europeans it may seem as if the Maneki Neko is waving rather than beckoning. This is due to the difference in gestures & body language recognized by Westerners and the Japanese, with Japanese beckoning by holding up the hand, palm out, and repeatedly folding the fingers down and back up.”

Supposedly, Maneki Neko is modeled after the Japanese Bobtail. I can believe it: While Elder Daughter and I were in Japan, every single cat we saw was a bobtailed cat. Here’s one at a shrine in the Kamiyacho district:

Japanese Bobtail
“Maybe in my next life, I’ll finally get a tail.”

Interesting. The Japanese look upon cats as bearers of good fortune - Maneki Neko is a Good Luck Talisman - while Europeans and Americans are more ambivalent, as evidenced by the various superstitions surrounding black cats. The Koreans and Chinese, meanwhile, tend to regard cats as a source of inexpensive animal protein.

Me, I think cats are the ideal Animal Companions. They’re lovable, cuddly, and they crap in a box. They’ve always brought me pleasure; if they bring good luck, so much the better.

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