Maneki Neko

Japanese Lucky Cat

Maneki Neko is the famous Japanese lucky cat.

Maneki Neko

The cat statue is easily recognizable as the cat will be holding one paw up. It looks like a waving cat.

Actually “Maneki” is the Japanese work for beckoning and “neko” means cat in Japanese.

The Maneki Neko is thought to bring good fortune and wealth to its owner.

This feline is considered very lucky. Anyone seeking success is sure to have a statue of this cat.

This cat comes in all sizes and is found in homes, businesses, shops and so on. The Maneki Neko has become a global phenomenon.

The popularity of these lucky cats seems to be increasing constantly.

These cats are believed to attract good fortune. Many also call these cats “money cats”.

It is not uncommon to find piggy banks, key chains, pictures, jewelry and so on shaped as the Japanese lucky cat.

Maneki Neko the Left and Right Paw Meaning

There are different interpretation about the meaning of which paws is up. The most common belief is as follows:

Left paw up – If the Maneki Neko is beckoning with its left paw, it is told the cat will attract customers. This is perfect for businesses and shop owners.

Business owners may place the cat statue in the window or near the entrance to attract more customers on a daily basis.

Right paw up – If the Maneki Neko is beckoning with its right paw, it is a sign to attract money, success and prosperity of all sorts.

This is the most popular in all levels of society. It is told it works well for non-business people.

Maneki Neko Color Meaning

These auspicious cats are found in different colors. This indicates that the Japanese lucky cats are used for much more than just increasing wealth.

It seems these cats can bring luck in many other areas of life.

The meaning of the colors varies in different regions of Japan. Some of the common meanings are:

Calico (spotted, with patches of two different colors): symbolizes extreme luck. It should be a favorite among many.

Green: This is uses to attract good health. What is the use of being rich if you are sick? The green cat recognizes that one needs good health in order to enjoy the cash flow.

Red: This is to secure love and harmonious relationships. You don’t want to be a lonely rich person. How sad. Better to also have a red cat.

White: White is for happiness. Everyone wants joy and happiness in their lives. Actually studies have been made indicating that happiness is the number one wish of the majority of people. Stay happy; always have a white Maneki Neko around!

Black: Black is for protection. People who worry about threats and dangers lurking about may want a black cat for protection.

Gold: Gold speaks for itself. Gold is wealth!

Decorations on the Lucky Cat

The lucky cats will always have some kind of decoration around its neck. It could be a bib, scarf or some kind of collar.

The neck decorations indicate wealth. This goes back to the Edo period (1603 -1868) in Japanese history.

During this period cats were very popular among the super-rich members of society. They loved to show off their wealth.

They would dress up their pet cat and take the cat for walks on a leash.  

It was important that others admired their feline companion.   

Sometimes the Maneki Neko will also hold a gold coin. The golden coin was called a koban and was worth a ryō. Ryō was a currency used in Japan before the yen.

The gold coin that Maneki Neko holds is said to be worth ten million ryō, which is an insane amount of money.

This truly is a money cat!

Maneki Neko Legend

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!

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1 thought on “Maneki Neko”

  1. I’ve been looking up background information on Google about Maneki Neko fortune cats because I’ll soon be getting one. Although I don’t believe in any Eastern/Asian religion or the concept of “luck”, I love cats, have two of my own and think the Maneki Neko cats figurines are pretty works of cultural art. Their variety is amazing, so choosing one is not an easy task!


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