【The Legend of the Japanese Lucky Cat - Maneki-Neko】 In Western culture, domestic cats make great pets. But in Japanese folklore, feline friends have protective powers and symbolize good fortune. Knowing this, it should come as no surprise that the maneki-neko is believed to represent one particularly legendary cat.🐈 One legend starts with a cat born at the Gōtoku-ji temple in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo during the Edo period (1603–1868). According to temple historians, while hunting with falcons, the daimyo (regional ruler) Ii Naotaka was saved from a lightning bolt when the abbot’s pet cat Tama beckoned him into Gōtoku-ji. Grateful to the cat for saving his life, the ruler made it a patron of the temple where it has been venerated in its very own shrine ever since. He helped to repair it and make more space for the poor monk. When the cat died, a statue of maneki-neko was made to commemorate its life, and the location continues to be considered sacred today. And this story is why many people believe the beckoning cats are symbols of good fortune. Today the tranquil grounds of Gōtoku-ji are dotted with thousands of beckoning cat statues of varying sizes. Visitors come to see the array of white cats—commonly shaped as a Japanese bobtail, a breed that makes frequent appearances in local folklore—and pray for luck. The statues can be purchased at the temple and are usually left behind as an offering, although many take them home as a souvenir. However, if you want to see how they evolved throughout the ages, the Manekineko Museum of Art in Okayama showcases a collection of more than 700 lucky cat statues from history. The beckoning cats are also celebrated every year in September during the Manekineko Festival in various cities across Japan. Maneki-neko events appear all over the country, and people flock to the streets with their faces painted like cats. There’s also a Manekineko-dori Street (“Beckoning Cat Street”) in Tokoname City, Aichi Prefecture, where dozens of ceramic cat statues decorate the street. And of course, Gōtoku-ji Temple—where the legend of the lucky cat began—is home to hundreds of the figurines. Maneki-neko also come in different colors, depending on the type of good fortune the owner is trying to obtain. What do the different colors represent? White⚪: Happiness, purity Black⚫: Safety, wards off evil spirits Red🔴: Protection from illness Gold🟡: Wealth and prosperity Pink💗: Love and romance Blue🔵: Success in education Green🟢: Family safety
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