Maneki-Neko (Lucky Cat)
Cats, beloved around the world, were often been depicted in old books and ukiyo-e, their exceptional charm allowing them to merge with Japan's rich culture.
A popular motif is the maneki-neko, literally "beckoning cat," which is believed to attract money and build bonds between people.
If its right paw is raised, it will draw in money and if its left paw is raised, it will attract people to it.
Many age-worn lucky cats can be seen on display in long-established stores and the majority of them have the left paw raised, demonstrating the importance the Japanese place on meeting people.
There are various theories regarding the origin of the lucky cat, but the most famous is the legend of Gotokuji Temple, in Setagaya, Tokyo.
In the mid-17th century, a cat belonging to the priest of this impoverished temple sat in front of the temple gate and made a beckoning action with its paw.
A famous lord, Ii Naotaka, who happened to be passing on his way back from hawk hunting, noticed it and decided to stop at the temple for a rest.
Almost immediately a violent thunderstorm struck and he was saved from getting wet.
In gratitude he donated a large sum of money to the temple, allowing it to regain its former splendor.