JAPAN PHOTOS by Philbert Ono

*Be sure to wear a mask when in crowds.

Image search results - "hikonyan"
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Hikone's super popular official mascot Hiko-nyan appears every day outside Hikone Castle Museum (photo) or in front of the main castle tower. A large crowd gathers each time.Hiko-nyan was the official mascot for Hikone Castle's 400th anniversary in 2007. He proven to be so popular that he has been retained as the city's official mascot.
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Hikone's official mascot Hiko-nyan appears three times daily for a 30-min. show: 10:30 am and 1:30 pm in front of the main castle tower (tenshu) and at 3:00 pm outside Hikone Castle Museum.According to legend, one day, Ii Naotaka, the third lord of Hikone Castle, was doing falconry in Tokyo and was near a temple when he saw this cat raising its paw. He was led inside the temple where he was able to rest inside. A major thunderstorm ensued, and the cat saved him from getting wet.
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Hiko-nyan does not talk or even "meow." He speaks through a handler or translator. Basically, he (or it) just struts around and makes cute poses with or without a prop.Another legend says that as soon as the cat beckoned Naotaka into the temple, lightning struck the tree where he was standing. Thus, the cat saved his life.
This legendary cat connection gave birth to the idea behind Hiko-nyan. This same legend is also one theory for the origin of the ubiquitous beckoning cat you see at shops and restaurants in Japan. The beckoning cat can be called Hiko-nyan's cousin.
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"Hiko" refers to Hikone, and "nyan" is a baby word for cat. Hiko-nyan's appearance schedule is here.If it rains, Hiko-nyan appears at the Castle Museum. Hiko-nyan is a white cat wearing a red samurai helmet with horns, modeled after the one worn by Lord Ii Naomasa, the first lord of Hikone Castle.

Hiko-nyan also makes guest appearances at various events to promote Hikone. He has even traveled to Hawaii to appear in a Japan parade in Waikiki.
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