Photos by Jean-Pierre Antonio, Suzuka, Japan
Each year at the end of September, the city of Seto, Japan (located about 25 kilometres northeast of Nagoya) celebrates Maneki Neko, the cat that beckons good fortune. Lucky Cats appear all over the city (for sale in shops and on tables along the streets, on display in restaurants and other venues), children as well as adults roam the streets with their faces painted like cats, and a general atmosphere of fun and good humour prevails (with all the painted faces, the mood is reminiscent of North American Halloween).
As well as hosting the Maneki Neko Matsuri (or festival), Seto is home to the Maneki Neko Museum, where over 1000 beckoning cats can be viewed all year. Seto is also one of Japans oldest and most renowned pottery towns (dating back over 1000 years). Seto kilns have been producing a distinctive style of finely crafted beckoning cat statue since the 1890s (more elegant and slim than the plump round-faced cat holding a gold coin, which was first produced in the neighbouring city of Tokoname in the 1950s).