The Cat’s Grave

Translated from Edo Tokyo Kaii Hyakumonogatari

A grave for a cat was built at the Ekou-in temple in Honjo.  There is a reason for this.

Near the vicinity of Fukagawa, a cat-lover and fish-dealer named Rihei would come to the house of Tokita Kisabu to sell some fish.  Tokita had a mottled cat that he had kept for about four of five years, and Rihei never failed to toss a fish to the cat when he came calling.

A time came when Rihei fell sill, and could no longer go on his rounds selling fish.  That same mottled cat came calling instead at Rihei’s house and said:

“I haven’t seen you for such a long time, I thought I had better come and check on you.”

“I am ill and have not been able to sell my fish.”

Rihei answered.

Hearing this, the cat’s head hung low as he slinked out of the home.  He soon returned, bearing a single golden koban coin in his mouth.

With this, Rihei was able to go back into business and once again returned to his custom of tossing a fish to the cat when he was on his rounds.   The cat came calling once again to Rihei’s house, this time bearing a bounty of three coins in his mouth.  Sadly, Rihei was not in and clerk at the shop was so startled by the cat’s strange appearance that he swung at the mottled cat and killed it.

Rihei was saddened by this, and after discussing it with Tokita decided to use the money born by the cat to build a grave for him at the Ekou-in temple, where it stands to this day.

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