I don’t think it’s too much of an overstatement when I say I love these lucky cats! My love of all things kitsch has been well documented over the years (I think it started when I was 16 and began to choose my own decor!) and I’ve been admiring these tacky plastic cats in takeaway restaurants for ageees.
Little did I know that owning one would be so easy – no adoption process, no shipping from some far-flung asian land, nope – just a quick browse on the internet brought up a plethora of these cheeky little kitties that I could buy right here in the UK.
My first Maneki Neko cat was bought for me by my husband for my birthday and it was garish-gold, plastic-y and – best of all – solar-powered! How tacky is that?!! But he’s my special cat (called lucky) and he waves at me all day long thanks to that solar panel. And sometimes, when I look at him at night – and he’s not waving already his little paw – he starts up waving at me. And this really scared me! After the first couple of times he did it, I thought it through and (although convinced that he could see that I was looking at him) I realised that it was probably more likely that the light from my lamp must reflect off my face and therefore, when I turn towards the lucky cat I bounce some light towards him and start up his solar-powered paw.
I watched the ‘Catwoman’ documentary by Joanna Lumley recently and the lucky lady got to visit the home of Maneki Neko and see hundreds of these little lovelies as well as hear the ‘legend’ of this lucky cat. Apparently the story goes that a wealthy nobleman was sheltering under a tree near Gotoku-ji temple in Western Tokyo during a thunderstorm. The lord saw the temple’s cat beckoning to him and followed; a moment later the tree was struck by lightning. The wealthy lord believed that the cat had saved his life and became friends with the poor priest and the temple became prosperous. When the cat died, supposedly the first Maneki Neko was made in his honor. There are many other stories of the legend of the lucky cat, but all around the theme of the cat bringing wealth, safety and happiness. So that can’t be bad can it?!
My husband has since bought me a large ceramic lucky cat while he was away for work in Preston (don’t worry, it’s still very glittery and tacky!) and I’ve even picked up a lucky gold pig money box. I don’t want to get too carried away with this collection, but I’ve got my eye on this chubby little fella and some Maneki Neko fabric too!
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