10 things you need to know about Maneki Neko

1.Overview of Maneki neko

Maneki Neko (kanji: 招 き 猫 hiragana ま ね き ね こ, can be understood as Waving Cat) is a common Japanese figurine (lucky charm, talisman) which is often believed to bring good luck to the owner. Actually “Maneki” is the Japanese work for beckoning and “neko” means cat in Japanese. The figurine depicts a cat beckoning with an upright paw, and is usually displayed in—often at the entrance of—shops, restaurants, pachinko parlors, laundromats, dry cleaners, salons, and other businesses. Some of the sculptures are electric or battery-powered and have a slow-moving paw beckoning to invite guests.

2. The meaning of Its name

In Japanese, maneki-neko (pronounced ma-neck-ee-neck-o) means “beckoning cat” or “invitation cat.” But this lucky charm is also known as the Chinese lucky cat, the golden cat, the money cat, the welcoming cat and the fortune cat.

3. Maneki Neko Legends

The priest’s cat saved a man’s life

There are several different legends about the Maneki Neko.

The most well-known is about the poor priest, his cat and the rich feudal lord.

A poor priest lived in a small temple called the Gōtoku-ji temple (in Tokyo) with his beloved pet cat.

He was barely getting by, having very little food and no worldly goods.

One night a frightful storm hit the area. The traveler was passing by and stopped for refuge under a tree.

Standing there in the pouring rain, he noticed a cat sitting by the door of a small temple. The cat kept waving his paw, as he was beckoning the man to come into the temple.

The traveler was fascinated by the strange behavior of cat and wondered over to the temple.

Just as he reached the temple entrance, lightning struck down on exactly the same spot he had been standing just moments earlier.

The beckoning cat had saved his life. It so happened that this traveler was an extremely rich feudal lord.

He was showed his gratitude by showering the temple with enormous amounts of gifts and money.

The beckoning cat had truly brought prosperity to its owner and their home!

Cat of courtesan

The western part of Tokyo at the beginning of the 17th century had a large number of brothels, which stood along the road. The courtesans in those days were called yuo, and the most skilled of them were called tayu.

A tayu named Usugumo felt a great affection for her cats, so these animals surrounded her everywhere.

Favorite cat one night did not allow her to leave the house, clinging to clothes. The guard, having noticed it, ran up and in a flash cut off the animal’s head. The head flew up, grabbing a snake with its teeth and killing it. Due to the fact that Usugumo was very fond of cats, the predator saved the mistress’s life.

Usugumo was very sad for her cat. In order to allay her sadness, one of the regular visitors presented a figurine of a cat, which became the prototype of the famous today Maneki-neko.

The story of the cat from Imado

One poor old woman from Imado, who is in the eastern part of Tokyo, was left alone in her old age. She was forced to sell her pet cat to earn a little money for food. But the funds over time ended, and the old woman was in a quandary.

One night she dreamed of her cat. He spoke to her: “Go make a figure similar to me, and sell it to people.” The old woman listened and began to make figures from different materials. People liked her figurines, they were quickly dismantled. Thus, an elderly woman was able to raise money and provide herself for the remaining years.

And the figures made by her hands acquired the aura of good luck and well-being talisman, becoming known to us as Maneki Neko.

4. The ancient tale about how it was created

There are several different legends about the Maneki Neko.

The most well-known is about the poor priest, his cat and the rich feudal lord.

A poor priest lived in a small temple called the Gōtoku-ji temple (in Tokyo) with his beloved pet cat.

He was barely getting by, having very little food and no worldly goods.

One night a frightful storm hit the area. The traveler was passing by and stopped for refuge under a tree.

Standing there in the pouring rain, he noticed a cat sitting by the door of a small temple. The cat kept waving his paw, as he was beckoning the man to come into the temple.

The traveler was fascinated by the strange behavior of cat and wondered over to the temple.

Just as he reached the temple entrance, lightning struck down on exactly the same spot he had been standing just moments earlier.

The beckoning cat had saved his life. It so happened that this traveler was an extremely rich feudal lord.

He was showed his gratitude by showering the temple with enormous amounts of gifts and money.

The beckoning cat had truly brought prosperity to its owner and their home!

5.The country of origin

The maneki-neko originated in Japan, and most agree that these lucky cats first appeared during the Edo period (17th century to mid-19th century).

6. The Accessories Make the Lucky Cat

Maneki Neko is a finely dressed cat usually adorned with a bib, collar and bell. In the Edo period, it was common for wealthy people to dress their pet cats this way; a bell was tied to the collar so that owners could keep track of their cats’ whereabouts.

Fortune Cat figurines often holding other things in their paws. These include:

  1. A koban worth one ryo: This is a Japanese coin from the Edo period; a ryo was considered to be quite the fortune back then.
  2. The magic money mallet: If you see a small hammer, this represents wealth. When shaken, the mallet is supposed to attract wealth.
  3. A fish, most likely a carp: The fish is symbolic of abundance and good fortune.
  4. A marble or gem: This is another money magnet. Some people believe it’s a crystal ball and represents wisdom.

Lucky Cats can also be found holding gourds, prayer tablets, daikon radishes and ingots. These items also represent wealth and good luck.

Regardless of the name, legend, raised paw, color or item in its paw, you basically can’t go wrong with a Maneki Neko perched by your side.

7. The meaning of its color

Most of the maneki-neko figurines are in white but depending on local tastes, traditions, and specific meanings attached to the figurines, the colors can be in shades of black, red, or gold. Among these variations, a black cat is believed to see well even at night thus is considered as a cat of fortune to chase away bad luck. On the other hand, red is a color said to be disliked by the gods of smallpox and measles thus a red maneki-neko is considered to be effective in warding off illnesses. As for the other colors used for the maneki-neko figurines, here are their respective meanings:

Gold – bringing in money or monetary fortune

Pink – improving one’s fortune in love

Yellow – bringing in a good match for marriage

Blue – improving safety at home and praying for traffic safety

Green – hoping for success in exams and excellence in studies

Leopard print – as the word leopard (? – hyou) sounds the same as votes (? – hyou) in Japanese, this is a favorite of politicians to signify bringing in many votes from the electorate

8. Give a paw

Traditionally, the maneki-neko’s paw beckons with its paw facing forward in Japanese fashion. Some maneki-neko designed for Western markets have the cat’s paw facing backward.

9. Right or left

Maneki-neko can be found with either the right or left paw raised (and sometimes both). There are many different beliefs regarding the meaning of the raised paw. Many people think that a raised left paw brings in customers, while a right paw brings good luck and wealth. Some believe the opposite, or that one paw is for luck and the other for wealth. Another theory is that a raised left paw attracts money, while a raised right paw protects it.

10. Where to Put Maneki neko

Traditional Maneki Neko cats are calico and these are considered the luckiest. Even within feng shui placement, this style of lucky cat belongs anywhere. But different colors of cats have different meanings and these might influence where you keep your bit of luck.

Placing Gold Lucky Cats for Wealth

This gilded feline belongs in your wealth corner, the southeast corner of your room, home, office or desk. Count on a salary increase, unexpected income, or new opportunities to create financial abundance.

Where to Place a White Lucky Cat for Positive Energy

In feng shui, a cloud-colored kitty goes in the north section of a space for greater prosperity, the west to summon creativity or children, or the northwest for travel and helpful people.

Placing Red and Pink Lucky Cats for Love

This cat is the color of love, so that’s what you get when you park it in the southwest area of your room or home. In the south corner of any space, the red cat will bring greater fame and successful ventures.

Where to Put Black Lucky Cats for Protection and Health

Far from unlucky, this black cat will bring you more money when you place it in the north or southwest area of any space. It will enhance your investments from a perch in the southeast. And black or blue cats will protect you from illness and bring you good health if you find room for them in the east area of a room or building.

Placing Green Lucky Cats for Fame

The color of life, a green lucky cat in the south amplifies positive energy and fame, especially from educational achievement or creative pursuits such as writing or art. Shift it to the southeast to increase wealth.

11. The city which produces the most maneki-neko figurines

In Japan, there are a number of places which are famous for producing the maneki-neko figurines such as Seto City and Takasaki City. Among these, the top producer of these cute-looking cat figurines is Tokoname City which is one of the oldest and biggest production base among the “Nihon Rokkoyo or Japan’s Six Ancient Kilns. As a result, most of the maneki-neko figurines produced in Tokoname are made from ceramic. In recent years, though, plastic versions have become more common especially those powered by battery or solar power that has the raised hand moving in a beckoning fashion repeatedly.

12. Maneki Neko in popular culture

Modern Japanese folklore suggests that keeping a talisman of good fortune, such as the maneki-neko, in bedrooms and places of study will bring about favorable results and life successes.

The Pokémon named Meowth is based upon the maneki-neko. Unlike traditional Maneki-neko who hold the Koban coin, Meowth has the coin projected from its forehead. Meowth can fire this coin as a projectile weapon with its signature move Payday.

Netta performed her song “Toy” in front of two walls full of maneki-neko at the Eurovision Song Contest 2018. She won the competition after collecting 529 points at the final.

13. In Tokoname, there is a gigantic maneki-neko figurine named Tokonyan which looks over the town

The name was selected after an open call for suggestions from the city’s residents which was conducted in the summer of 2008. Tokonyan is perched on top of a wall on the southern side of the Tokoname Maneki-Neko Street and measures 3.8 meters high and 6.3 meters wide. If you look at it from the street below, it appears as if Tokonyan is peering over the wall. In front of Tokonyan, there are two brown ceramic cats looking at it as seen in the photo above. If you don’t look closely, you might be misled into thinking that these figurines in front of Tokonyan are real cats since they are of the same size as their living counterparts!

14. There is a restaurant about Maneki neko in Japan

Kudos Restaurant is located in an old wooden house covered with vines on a small street in a small town in Vancouver, where I least expect to find a Japanese restaurant. Very good meal, the waiter and the cook (I think they are also owners) are very affable and generous (serving us more than one dish in the house). . .

And Maneki Neko appears everywhere.

It was not until after dinner that we strolled around the block, we encountered a mural and signed it and realized that we were passing through a place that used to be a small but prosperous Japantown.

Before World War II, the small saw town of Chemainus city on Vancouver Island had a Japanese community of about 300 people. During the war, Japanese Canadians were transferred to internment camps (losing their homes and businesses), and many did not return later. Chemainus fell into hard times in the early 1980s when its factory closed, but turned itself into a tourist destination as a town of outdoor murals. Despite the few relics of the original Japanese community, it is remembered in one of these murals.

The owners of Kudos restaurant (9875 Maple St –around the corner from the Hospital auxiliary thrift store in the lower part of Chemainus) immigrated from Japan a decade or so ago, and are part of a new community, which depends less on natural resource industries (though the mill has reopened) and more on arts, culture and tourism, (the town is now known for its murals, eclectic shops, and live theatre).

15. There is a special day for Maneki Neko Statues!

Believe it or not there is a special day dedicated to Maneki Neko – September 29th.

16.  It has lots of different names

There are multiple aliases for Maneki Neko, especially when it is used in a western context. It is sometimes known as a fortune cat, lucky cat or happy cat. Sometimes also ‘money cat’ or ‘welcoming cat’, for obvious reasons.

A Maneki Neko is a great addition to your shop, especially if you have Japanese or east Asian connotations to your business. As you can see from the facts above however, this little statue has many meanings and symbolizes far more than an attraction to beckon customers through your door!

17. Where should I buy Maneki neko?

At the top of this list is Maneki Neko World – the best choice to buy Maneki Neko merchandise. Maneki Neko World offers a variety of different Maneki Neko items inspired by the lucky cat Maneki Neko Here, you can freely choose favorite item to fill own Maneki Neko items collection. Moreover, you absolutely can count on the quality of the product. Maneki Neko World’s goods are not only beautiful but also ensure high quality, will definitely make you satisfied. The important thing is they commit to applying the Cheap Price – Free Shipping – Full Refund Guarantee for Maneki Neko fans in global.

 

 

 

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