That Cat . . .
The maneki neko or beckoning cat is seen all over Japan,
where its message, as on this web site, is "Please come in. You're welcome."
Japanese body language differs from that of the West in some respects. In particular, the gesture meaning "Come here" is done the other way up, i.e. with the palm downward.
The legend states that a poor temple owner could no longer afford to keep a cat. He apologized to the cat and set him free. One day, a wealthy lord was walking by the temple when he saw the cat beckoning to him. The lord was interested, and as he walked toward the cat, lightning hit a tree and it fell to the road where he was previously standing. Grateful to the cat who saved his life, the lord funded the temple. People came to see the temple from all over Japan, and the owner made clay statues of his cat with the left paw raised in a beckoning gesture. The "maneki neko" temple is Goutokuji.
And if you'd like to read more about the story of the cat click this button to go to the site of the Maneki Neko Club,who have lots more pictures and versions of the legend
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