This is one of the stories that tells why
manekineko,a porcelain figure of a cat with one paw
is often seen in front of restaurants, shop
windows, and inns.
It is believed that this beckoning cat will
bring good fortune and prosperity by drawing
About 300 years ago, there was a small shop
selling straw sandals at Namikicho, in the
of Asakusa. Today, it is known by the name
of Kaminarimon that has many souvenir shops lining
down the street.
The shop was owned by a hard-working man,
who had a beautiful and gentle wife.
Their business was flourishing and they earned
enough money to provide all their needs.
Both were quite happy and contented, except
that they weren't blessed with a child, which
they longed so much.
They had a cat, Buchi, that they loved as
if it were their own child. The wife cooked
meal for Buchi, and on cold days, she took
Buchi to her bed at night and kept the cat
in her blanket. Buchi was quite happy, purred
all the time whenever she was around, and
slept soundly every night.
One day, the husband felt ill, and died just
a few days later. It was quite a shock for
but left alone, she realized that she had
to maintain the shop her husband had worked
She shed away her tears, and after giving
a decent funeral , opened her small shop
again as usual. She worked from dawn till
night, and Buchi was always lying nearby,
keeping her company.
Now the whole town knew about the death of
her husband, and because she was so charming
and beautiful, many men started to come,
trying to propose her. Most of them were
bad-behaviored, with wicked intentions in
She refused every one of them politely, "How
could I marry ? I wouldn't be able to face
my husband who's waiting for me at the next
Everyday men kept coming in and out, some
lurked outside the shop for hours to get
a glimpse of her. Customers didn't come as
many as before, and her shop's sale started
Feeling helpless and having no one to turn
to, one day the faithful wife took Buchi
on her lap, and stroking the cat, said with
a long sigh:
"My dear Buchi, I can't offer to buy
fish for your meal anymore, soon I will be
running out of money. I'm losing my customers
day by day, because of those men. How can
I keep them away, or do I have to marry one
of them in the end?"
Buchi listened silently, licking its front
paw all the time.
That night the wife had a dream. She saw
Buchi approaching and start talking to her:
"Don't worry, soon I will keep those
bad people away from you. Put a statue of
a cat that looks like this in the shop, and I promise you that your
shop will flourish as before". Sitting
upright, Buchi raised its left paw beside
its head, as if waving someone to come and
The next morning, the wife looked at Buchi
that was sleeping beside her, and said almost
"How nice of you to worry about me,
Buchi. But you're only a cat---what can you
do for me? Anyway, I appreciate your kindness."
A few days later, somewhere in the middle
of the night.
The wife was sleeping soundly when suddenly
there was a loud voice, that woke her up
instantly. "It's Buchi!", frightened,
she hurried down the stairs to see what happened.
Buchi was fighting with a man that came stealing
into her house. She saw the cat jumped and
bite the man on his neck.
The man drew his sword, and with one hard
blow, cut off Buchi's head. Buchi's body
felt to the ground instantly, but its head
kept clinging to the neck of the man, with
its sharp teeth buried deep in the flesh.
The man ran away, while trying to brush away
Buchi's head with all his might. Blood kept
dripping from his neck, on and on, till at
last he fainted and died, with the head of
Buchi sticking on.
The news were all over the town.
People believed that the beautiful woman
must be protected by a powerful spirit.
The men kept away from her and they were
so frightened they didn't dare to linger
around her shop anymore.
The wife wept for days on Buchi's grave which
she made in her yard.
In memory of the faithful cat, she ordered
a famous potter to make a small statue of
Buchi, Buchi with one paw raised as she saw
in her dream.
She put the statue in the shop window for
everyone to see. People stopped to admire
the statue that looked so inviting, and came
in to shop.
Once again the shop was prospering, and before
long it grew bigger and bigger, having many
workers and storehouses.
The Kaminarimon Gate.