Maneki-neko, the cat with the fortune-telling bottom

Socks Akers and the Maneki-neko

The fortune slip drawn from the cat’s bottom promised me ‘sho-kichi’, small blessing. I’m from Yorkshire, me, anything that can survive a cat’s bottom and talk about blessings, whatever their size, is fine by me.

Before you call in the cat police, I need to point out that the bottom in question was ceramic and that its owner, along with all the other paw-waving cats of Japanese origin, is well used to having fortunes placed there. It means good luck, the waving, not the bottom.

My lovely friend Maika has just returned from Japan and brought me this gift. She’s over here to study sports nutrition in Leeds, though thanks to a nattering of Tykes at the post-parkrun coffee, (I made up that collective noun), her education has been broadened to include Yorkshire, Ways, Wit, Widsom and Whatever Else. She can even sing a couple of verses of Ilkley Moor B’aht ‘at and has just been introduced to ‘I do like to be beside the seaside’, which while not Yorkshire in origin, the Bamforth saucy postcards most certainly are.

She can now confidently tell anyone leaving the door open to ‘put t’wood in t’oil’ and pointed out that the 34C heat she’d endured during her triathalon back home, was ‘cracking the flags’.

I was chuffed to pieces to have my own maneki-neko, they are supposed to bring good luck, especially with a waving right paw. Mine, in the traditional white, may also bring me happiness, and the red bib luck in relationships, though I think that’s more down to the company I keep.

Maika’s fortune must have foretold ‘Dai-kichi’  – or large blessing, as she saw one of her dreams come true. She chose Leeds because, as well as it being in God’s Own Country, it is the home of the Brownlee brothers, Olympic champion and runner-up and world championship botherers. As a triathlete, she wanted to meet them with a bit of Yorkshire banter. We’d given her a Yorkshire dictionary to help her brush up on some of the more obscure sayings, she took that with her to the Brownlee Triathalon at the weekend, along with a specially-purchased autograph pen. They didn’t disappoint, signing her dictionary and telling her they’d be in Japan next year. Hopefully they too will have a waving cat foretelling daikichi!

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