Monday, December 3, 2012

What Stores Do For Good Luck: The Japanese Good Luck Cat

Take a good look around the next time you're in a restaurant or store on Maui. Look above the store displays, above the cashier's area, or even above the aisle you're standing in. If it's a local store, bank, or small restaurant, there are very often Japanese good luck cats facing the front door. One paw faces up, always faces up, and there is some symbolism with the height of the paw or whether it's a right or left paw

A good luck cat gazing thoughtfully at the front door, at Pukalani Superette.
The establishment doesn't even have to be Japanese or owned by a Japanese family. These good luck cats are well respected totems of prosperity and protection.  

Haiku Grocery takes the cake!  There are so many good luck cats and prosperity statues that it requires several pictures. The pictures are a bit fuzzy, but you get the idea. The top left picture with the red totem with BIG eyes is a Japanese daruma doll, another good luck figure. The blue figurine appears to be a dragon, which could be Japanese or Chinese.

A Filipino restaurant and take out place in Wailuku. Two good luck cats and what looks like a rabbit, next to the scale. They do face the front door. Chicarron is a fried delicacy - fried pork rinds - like in the deep South!
A good luck altar at Sheik's restaurant in Kahului. Sheik's has a local following. DH sometimes goes there for mac salad. Good luck symbols include a bamboo kadomatsu, a daruma doll, good luck cats, and a boat of Japanese folkloric figures - the Seven Lucky Gods.  

Above the greeting card aisle at the Longs Drug Store in Kula (ahem, or Pukalani for zip code accuracy). Longs is a chain drug store
originally based in California, but now owned by CVS. 

Another common practice is for stores or retail establishments to have a Hawaiian blessing before opening, replete with a Hawaiian kahuna (master teacher) doing a ritual chant. Often a maile leaf lei is draped across the door.  The only picture I have of that is from the Art Maui blessing this year.


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