On Sunday, Paul and I decided to go to the Mall, just to have an excuse to get out of the house and do something different. Usually I eschew the aggravating consumerism of the private shopping complex. But hey, we needed a new garlic press.
So, as we were making our way back to the car (AKA "escaping"), we passed by this little Asian knick knack shop that was going out of business. That's when I saw it.
A Maneki Neko, the Beckoning Cat. It won me over with its cuteness and kitsch.
These little cat statues are basically synonymous with Chinese restaurants around here. But in Japan, where these figurines originated, they can commonly be found in lottery shops, banks, pachinko parlors, and other wealth-driven businesses. That's because the Maneki Neko is a symbol of financial prosperity. A raised right paw represents the protection of wealth, while the left paw (like the one on ours) indicates the acquisition of wealth. When I purchased it, the cute old shop owner even said "It's OK you spend money on this, because you get more monies coming in soon!"
The waving paw is supposed to mimic a beckoning motion (hence the name). This is based on the myth that cats are lucky spirits that will guide you away from harm and towards good fortune. That's why when you see one of these guys in a restaurant window, you're supposed to be drawn inside, away from your potential doom!
There are a few origin legends about why these little cat statues started being made. The weirdest of which goes as follows:
"A courtesan named Usugumo, living in Yoshiwara, in eastern Tokyo, kept a cat, much beloved by her. One night, the cat began tugging at her kimono. No matter what she did, the cat persisted. The owner of the brothel saw this, and believing the cat bewitched, cut its head off. The cat's head then flew to the ceiling where it killed a snake, ready at any moment to strike. Usugumo was devastated by the death of her companion. To cheer her up, one of her customers made her a wooden likeness of her cat as a gift. This cat image then became popular as the Maneki Neko."
But yeah, we'll see if this guy helps us rake in the dough. He has a special home in our newest home improvement.
Doot do do dooo! New built-in bookshelves. Paul's awesome dad made them for us and installed them last Saturday. They really improves the living room tenfold. It was a lot of fun to put out all our books to display too. Between them and the fortune cat, everything's coming up Milhouse!
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