According to Japanese legend, during the Edo Period (1603-1867), a Japanese nobleman was riding by a rundown temple outside Tokyo. While passing, he happened to notice the temple master’s cat, which seems to call out to him. Intrigued, he approached the cat, and at that exact moment, a lightning bolt struck the spot of the road he’d just left. Believing that the humble cat had save him, the nobleman endowed the cat’s temple home with land and money. Years later, when the cat died, the nobleman had created a figurine for its honor.
Today the Maneki Neko, the cat with one paw raised in a welcoming gesture, is welcoming guests in most Japanese shops, restaurants and bars. This “beckoning cat” also attracts wealth and good fortune to anyone who displays it.