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This is one of the stories that tells why manekineko,a porcelain figure of a cat with one paw raised,
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 many customers.


About 300 years ago, there was a small shop selling straw sandals at Namikicho, in the district
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 delicious
meal for Buchi, and on cold days, she took Buchi to her bed at night and kept the cat warm
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 the wife;
but left alone, she realized that she had to maintain the shop her husband had worked so hard
to achieve.
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 their minds.
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 world."
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 to decline.
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 stop by.
The next morning, the wife looked at Buchi that was sleeping beside her, and said almost to herself:
"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.
Januari 14,1999.