Maneki nekos, the legendary good fortune cats, are thought to bring good luck in many forms. A maneki neko with the right paw raised is said to bring wealth;
one with the left paw raised brings business.
White nekos protect good luck...
and black nekos protect against evil.
In earlier posts, I have told the tale of how the Maneki Nekos saved Santa's elves,
how a maneki neko named Tama saved an Edo monastery,
and how a maneki neko saved a Lady of the Night.
So today's maneki neko tale tells an earlier story ~ that of Jisho-in, a Tokyo area temple
which was founded by Kukai (Kobo-Daishi, 774-835), the priest who created the hirigana script.
According to documents that are still preserved at the temple, long ago, during the mid-16th century there was an fight between two individuals: Toshima, who belonged to the ruling family of the area, and Ōta Dōkan (太田 道灌). Ōta was a Japanese samurai warrior-poet, a military tactician and Buddhist monk.
Ōta and Toshima fought with all their strength and cunning, until both were close to collapse from exhaustion. Finally, Ōta could handle no more. The world started to spin and he could not focus his eyes. He knew that his minutes were numbered, and he was about to go down in defeat.
He stumbled backward, tripping over a black cat ...
...who had been watching the fight unobserved. Toshima, thinking he had triumphed, staggered off, barely coherent enough to savor his victory.
But Ōta was not dead. The black cat led him back to the temple, and there nursed him back to health. Each day Ota regained more and more of his strength until he was once again strong and fit.
When he knew he was once again a worthy opponent, Ōta took on Toshima once again. This time he defeated Toshima.
Out of gratitude for the black cat which saved his life, Ōta ordered that a jizo (A Buddhist saint) be fashioned in the shape of a cat.
The statue is known as neko-men jizo or jizo with a cat face ~ the maneki neko ~
~and has been a symbol for many good things ever since.
Maneki nekos here.