|This article is about a/an ally in Bikini Rangers Academic Dynasty.|
|Maneki The Neko Cat|
|First Apperance:||We're Nippon Rangers! (Part One)|
|Last Full Apperance:||The Final Ninja Battle, (Part Two)|
|Number of Episode Appearances:||N/A (Bikini Rangers Academic Dyansty)|
Maneki The Neko Cat is a common Japanese ally of Bikini Rangers Academic Dynasty (lucky charm, talisman) which is often believed to bring good luck to the owner. Maneki The Neko Cat come in different colors, styles and degrees of ornateness. Common colors are white, black, gold and sometimes red. In addition to ally to Nippon Rangers, can be found as keychains, piggy banks, air fresheners, house-plant pots, and miscellaneous ornaments, as well as large statues. It is also called the "Chinese lucky cat" in some cases and is very popular among Chinese merchants.
Some believe the Maneki The Neko Cat originated in Osaka, while some insist it was Tokyo (then named Edo). Maneki The Neko Cat first appeared during the later part of the Edo period in Japan. In 1876, during the Meiji era, it was mentioned in a newspaper article, and there is evidence that kimono-clad Maneki The Neko Cat were distributed at a shrine in Osaka during this time. A 1902 advertisement for maneki-neko indicates that by the turn of the century they were popular.
Beyond this the exact origins of Maneki The Neko Cat are uncertain, though several folktales offer explanations.
Others have noted the similarities between the Maneki The Neko Cat's gesture and that of a cat washing its face. There is a Japanese belief that a cat washing its face means a visitor will soon arrive. This belief may in turn be related to an even older Chinese proverb that states that if a cat washes its face, it will rain. Thus, it is possible a belief arose that a figure of a cat washing its face would bring in customers.
Maneki The Neko Cat is the subject of a number of folktales. Here are some of the most popular, explaining the cat's origins:
The stray cat and the shop: The operator of an impoverished shop (or inn, tavern, temple, etc.) takes in a starving, stray cat despite barely having enough to feed himself. In gratitude, the cat takes up a station outside the establishment and beckons in new visitors, bringing prosperity as a reward to the charitable proprietor. Ever after, the "beckoning cat" has been a symbol of good luck for small business owners.
The nobleman-warning cat: One day a luminary passed by a cat, which seemed to wave to him. Taking the cat's motion as a sign, the nobleman paused and went to it. Diverted from his journey, he realized that he had avoided a trap that had been laid for him just ahead. Since that time, cats have been considered wise and lucky spirits. Many Japanese shrines and homes include the figurine of a cat with one paw upraised as if waving, hence the origin of maneki-neko, often referred to as kami-neko in reference to the cat's kami or spirit. Depending on version, the story may cast the nobleman as one of various Japanese emperors, as well as historical characters such as Oda Nobunaga and the samurai Ii Naotaka.
The temple cat: This similar story goes that a wealthy feudal lord named Ii Naotaka was taking shelter under a tree near Gōtoku-ji temple (in Setagaya, Tokyo) during a thunderstorm. The lord saw the temple priest's cat beckoning to him and followed; a moment later the tree was struck by lightning. The wealthy man became friends with the poor priest and the temple became prosperous. When the cat died, supposedly the first maneki-neko was made in his honor.
The original story of a waving cat as distributed in Goutokuji temple cat statues shop: The story of a Monk and a waving cat: A long time ago when the temple was a shabby hut and the Monk could barely live on the small income he gained as practicing mendicant. He had a cat and cared for it like his own child, sharing his own meal with it. One day he said to the cat, "If you are grateful to me, bring some fortune to the temple." After many months, one summer afternoon, the Monk heard sounds around the gate, and there he saw five or six samurai warriors on their way home from hawk hunting, approaching him and leaving their horses behind. They said, "We were about to pass in front of your gate, but there a cat was crouching and suddenly it lifted one arm and started waving and waving when it saw us. We were surprised and intrigued, and that brought us to come here to ask for some rest." So the Monk served his bitter tea and told them to relax. Suddenly the sky darkened and heavy rain began to fall with thunder. While they waited a long time for the sky to clear, the Monk preached Sanzei-inga-no-hou (past, present, future reasoning sermons). The samurais were delighted and began to think about converting to the temple. Immediately, one samurai announced, "My name is Naotaka Ii. I am the king of Hikone, Koshu prefecture. Due to your cat's waving, we were able to hear your preaching. This has opened our eyes, and seems to be the start of something new. This must be the Buddha's will." Soon after they returned home, Naotaka Ii donated huge rice fields and crop lands to make the temple grand and generous as it is now. Because of the cat, fortune had been brought to the temple. Therefore, Gotokuji is called the cat temple. The monk later established the grave of the cat and blessed it. Before long the statue of the cute waving cat was established so that people might remember the episode and worship it. Now everybody knows the temple as the symbol of household serenity, business prosperity, and fulfillment of wishes.
The beheaded cat: A young woman named Usugumo, living in Yoshiwara in eastern Tokyo, had a cat, much beloved by her. One day, she had a visit from her friend, a swordsman. The cat suddenly went frantic, clawing at the woman's kimono persistently. Thinking the cat was attacking her, the swordsman severed the head of the cat, which flew through the air, then lodged its teeth into and killed a venomous snake on the support boards above, where it had been waiting to strike the woman. After the incident, Usugumo was devastated by the death of her companion, and would neither eat nor sleep. The swordsman felt guilty for what he had done and sad for the woman. He went to a woodcarver, who was called "the best in the land", who made him a carving of the cat, a paw raised in greeting. This cat image then became popular as the maneki-neko. When he gave the carving to her, she was overjoyed and lived her life again instead of suffering. A variant has the woman as a geisha, the swordsman replaced with her okiya's (geisha house's) owner, and the wooden cat made by a client of the courtesan lady.
The old woman's cat: An old woman, living in Imado in eastern Tokyo, was forced to sell her cat due to extreme poverty. Soon afterwards the cat appeared to her in a dream. The cat told her to make its image in clay. She did as instructed, and soon afterward sold the statue. She then made more, and people bought them as well. These maneki-neko were so popular she soon became prosperous and wealthy.
The Saviour Cat: During the Kofun period the emperor huwormishu was allergic to cats and had them banned from the palace. The Prince Togamashu found a stray cat and fell in love with it and brought into the temple and hid it. The emperor found the cat and banished Togamashu and the cat. One day a wealthy merchant on his way to the palace was walking by the new home of Togamashu and his cat and the cat waved at him. He was so amazed that he told the emperor the he was not going to make a deal with him but because of the cat he changed his mind. The emperor allowed Togamashu to return the temple with his cat and declared the cat to be lucky.
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