Any country can set an elegant table, but few can match the Japanese for ritual. According to custom, one says itadakimasu (“I receive”) before starting a meal, then dries one’s hands on the hot towel provided. And no Japanese table is completely set until the arrival of the hashi neko, or chopsticks cat.
The chopsticks cat can trace its origins to the stern imperial courts of the 8th century, in which specially-trained cats would guard the chopsticks of the emperor and empress, and scratch anyone else who dared reach for them.
Domo arigato, Joanna P.