On almost every corner of this city, one can find a broom-toting cat traditionally believed by locals to ward off misfortune and bring good luck.
One of the ubiquitous “Oidashi-neko” (casting-out cat) characters can be found at Wakamiya Community Center Heartful in the city center. The massive monument situated inside a parking area stands 2.1 meters tall--or 3.6 meters including the platform.
The character has a stern look on its face and carries an oval gold coin on its collar that reads “cast out misfortune.” On the back side, the character is smiling, and the coin reads “bring luck.”
The character is based on a story more than 400 years old about a Buddhist priest who loved cats. The priest was plagued by a huge mouse living in his temple. His cat, determined to resolve the problem, summoned its comrades and fought the mouse tooth and nail. Despite the victory, many cats died in the battle. The priest later held a memorial service for them.
In 2006, the town of Wakamiya merged with the town of Miyata to become present-day Miyawaka city. In 1995, Wakamiya adopted the story as the town’s theme for promoting the region.