I've written a bit about the Akabeko in my earlier post on Aizu-Wakamatsu some time back, but I just thought I'd post it up again. Why? Because it's sooooooo cute! That's why.
Yup, I only learnt about the story/legend of akabeko after our trip to Aizu-Wakamatsu. But, better late than not knowing at all, right?
The toy is based on a real cow that helped in the construction of a temple; Enzo-Ji. Upon completion of the temple, the cow had willingly give its soul to Buddha. Another version mentioned that the cow had refused to leave the construction site and became a permanent fixture there. The cow then became a symbol of zealous devotion to the Buddha.
Akabeko toys was reportedly created during the late 16th or early 17th century and became popular as charms to ward off small pox and other illnesses, and the superstition prevails until current time.
I wish I bought an akabeko as a souvenir. Even without the superstition, the red cow makes a totally cute souvenir.