Hubby and I love the local Japanese steak house, Kabuto. We go there once or twice a month.
The last time we were there, we noticed this weird little golden cat, with its fist pumping up and down. Neither of us knew what this was about. Hubby asks me, “Why does the manager have a cat on his desk that looks like, ‘Fight the power!’?” He then made the same gesture as the cat, leaned over to me and whispered, “Meow, motherf**ker!”
Once I was back in control of myself (I probably laughed for a full ten minutes – I couldn’t help it. Hubby doesn’t normally talk like that, and it just killed me), I asked the manager what the cat was about. He said something in Japanese that I didn’t understand. I thanked him and let it go.
But I couldn’t let it go. So I spent some time looking into this cat phenomenon. (Once I noticed the first one, they began to pop up everywhere. Well, not really everywhere, but I eat sushi a lot and they’re in every sushi place I go to.)
They’re called Maneki Neko (beckoning cat), and they seem to be very popular.
The gold color is to attract wealth; the fact that it’s the left paw beckoning is to attract customers. The reason it looks like a fist is that Japanese beckon with their palm showing, as opposed to Americans and most other westerners, who beckon palm-in.
They’re available in all kinds of colors and styles, and the colors mean different things (red keeps away evil spirits, for example).
Now I think I have to run out and buy one of these things. I’m fascinated.
Who knew you could learn so much by web-searching for ‘Japanese steak house cat’?