By Susan Lendroth
In a small Japanese village, a poor monk and his cat Tama live a simple life at the Kotoku Monastery. One day, a great storm passes through the village, and Tama is caught in the rain outside the temple. She waits under the eaves of a small shrine, cleaning her face and whiskers as best she can with her paw. A noble samurai is also passing through, and stops his horse under the cover of a large tree. But through the rain, what does he see? A cat with a raised paw, beckoning him forward?
Curious, the samurai urges his horse forward. Just then, a bolt of lightning flashes and strikes the tree behind him, splitting it in two. The beckoning cat has saved his life. In his gratitude, the samurai brings riches to the small temple and the monk, who shares his wealth with the village.
So goes the Japanese legend of Maneki Neko, the beckoning cat. And to this day, the cat with raised paw beckoning guests is a symbol of good luck and good fortune in many Asian countries. Susan Lendroth's retelling of this well-known legend brings warmth to the two monastery companions, while award-winning illustrator Kathryn Otoshi brings them to life in the beautiful landscape of old Japan.