I’m a big proponent of the adage, “we make our own luck.” What I mean by that is with hard work, perseverance, planning, and awareness of opportunities in our midst – luck happens. However, I’m not averse to utilizing a few lucky charms to boost lucky vibes in our endeavors. I’ve been known to wear lucky talismans, and I always carry my dad’s lucky pocket knife with me. It’s true that certain items are considered lucky in various cultures, and I’ve written a lot about the meaning of lucky charms on this site. One such an object or Japanese animal that bears exploration is the Maneki Neko cat meaning.
The Maneki Neko Cat is also known as the lucky waving cat or good fortune cat. It is believed to bring luck and prosperity to its owners. This cat is often found in Asian countries such as Japan, China, and Korea, but it has become a popular symbol in other parts of the world too.
I had the pleasure of learning about the Maneki Neko cat meaning from Haruto, an Itamae (a pro sushi chef) who I befriended in NYC. Much of the information about this quirky cute kitty is from conversations I had with Haruto about luck, life, and of course – the Maneki Neko cat meaning. For sure, it is an iconic cat figure and worthy of exploring more deeply. From its origins to how it can be used to bring prosperity, I’ll pounce on the highlights of this enchanting little feline figure. Enjoy!
Table of Contents
- What is the Maneki Neko Cat?
- History and Origins of the Maneki Neko Cat
- Stories and Legends of the Maneki Neko
- Maneki Neko Cat Color Meanings
- Meaning of the Raised Paw on Maneki Neko Cat (which paw means what?)
- Ways to Incorporate the Maneki Neko Cat in Your Life
- Tips on Choosing the Right Maneki Neko Cat for You
- Frequently Asked Questions About the Maneki Neko Cat
- Concluding Thoughts About the Maneki Neko Cat Meaning
What is the Maneki Neko Cat?
The Maneki Neko Cat is a popular Japanese figurine that is often seen in businesses and homes. Also known as the lucky waving cat, or the beckoning cat, it is believed to bring good luck and fortune to its owner. The cat is usually depicted with one paw raised and the other lowered, which is said to represent the inviting gesture of beckoning customers or guests into a space. The Maneki Neko Cat is also often seen holding another lucky object, such as a coin or a koi fish, which symbolizes abundance and prosperity.
History and Origins of the Maneki Neko Cat
The Maneki Neko Cat is a popular Japanese figurine that is often seen in homes and businesses. The figure depicts a cat with its paw raised as if it is waving. The Maneki Neko Cat is said to bring good luck and fortune to its owner, which is why it is often given as a gift.
The history of the Maneki Neko Cat can be traced back to the Edo period in Japan (1603-1868). It is said that a wealthy lord was taking shelter from a storm under a tree when a calico cat approached him. The cat beckoned to him with its paw, and the lord followed the cat to safety. The lord was so grateful that he had the cat made into a figurine, which he then placed in his home as a good luck charm.
Since then, the Maneki Neko Cat has become one of the most popular lucky charms in Japan. It is often given as a gift to business owners, as it is thought to bring them good luck and prosperity. The Maneki Neko Cat has also become popular in other parts of Asia, such as China and Taiwan. Today, this cool cat is seen around the world as a talisman of good luck.
Stories and Legends of the Maneki Neko
A common misconception is that the Maneki Neko is Chinese. Nope. It actually originated in Japan. Now that we have that cleared up, what is the story behind the Maneki Neko cat? Here are a few legends and stories about the Maneki Neko cat meaning:
The Wealthy Lord
According to legend, a wealthy Japanese lord was passing by a temple when he was suddenly caught in a thunderstorm. Seeking shelter, he ran into the temple and took refuge under a tree. Suddenly, a cat appeared and beckoned to him with its paw, leading him to safety. The lord was so grateful that he made a generous donation to the temple. From then on, the cat became known as Maneki Neko, or “the beckoning cat.”
Since then, Maneki Neko has become a symbol of good luck and prosperity and is often seen in Japanese businesses as a lucky animal charm. Many people believe that Maneki Neko brings good fortune to their homes and workplaces. In recent years, Maneki Neko has become popular all over the world as a symbol of good luck and prosperity.
Cat Saves Boy
Another popular Japanese fable is the story of a poor boy who was saved by a cat from a vicious dog attack. So grateful to the courageous cat for saving their child’s life, the family adopted it. They loved and cared for the cat as if it were a part of their family. The boy’s family then became rich and prosperous after adopting the cat. Consequently, the cat was believed to have expressed gratitude by showering good fortune on its loving, adopted family. Hence, the cat in this particular story is associated with the Maneki Neko cat.
The Geisha and Her Cat
Another story tells of a geisha who was very kind to her pet cat. After the geisha died, her spirit supposedly haunted her former residence. Whenever someone would walk by, the spirit of her cat would beckon them inside, warning them of potential danger ahead, and protect them as well as provide provisions for them. Because the geisha and her cat’s spirit are associated with protection and generosity, this fabled pussy is linked to the Maneki Neko cat.
The Merchant and the Maneki Neko
Here’s another Maneki Neko story: During a time of great famine and poverty in Japan, a merchant named Iizuka Hosokawa saw a cat waving at him across a river. He took this as a sign of good luck and decided to cross the river. As he did so, he found a treasure trove of gold coins on the other side. From then on, Iizuka became extremely wealthy and successful. He attributed his good fortune to the waving cat and decided that a cat should always have a place in his business establishment.
The Servant Girl’s Kind Heart
According to this legend, a poor monk was begging for food near a temple when a kindhearted servant girl approached him. The girl offered him her only possessions – a bowl of rice and her beloved cat. The girl’s kindness touched the monk so much that he blessed the cat, saying that it would bring good luck and fortune to all who owned it. Because of this, the servant girl’s cat is associated with the Maneki Neko.
Maneki Neko Cat Color Meanings
While we all realize the Maneki Neko cat meaning is all about good luck – the colors of these keen cats can infuse different meanings too. Each color has its own meaning and is said to bring good luck to the owner in different ways.
Here is a breakdown of the different Maneki Neko Cat colors and what they represent:
White – Purity, Happiness, and Good Luck
The white Maneki Neko is considered to be the luckiest of all the colors. It is said to bring purity, happiness, and good luck to those who own it. This color is also thought to ward off evil spirits and bring peace and harmony to the home.
Red – Love, Health, and Prosperity
The red Maneki Neko is known as the “love cat.” It is said to bring love, health, and prosperity to those who own it. This color is also associated with good luck in relationships and marriage. If you are looking for a partner, placing a red Maneki Neko in your home or business is said to attract a loving mate.
Black – Protection from Evil Spirits and Bad Luck
The black Maneki Neko is known as the “protector cat.” It is said to protect those who own it from evil spirits and bad luck. This color is also associated with strength, courage, and power. BlackManeki Nekos are often given as gifts to people who
Meaning of the Raised Paw on Maneki Neko Cat (which paw means what?)
A big part of the Maneki Neko cat meaning is all in the paws. Left? Right? Both? Which paw means what when it comes to this beguiling beckoning cat? The cat is usually depicted with one paw raised, and the meaning of each hand has a different interpretation.
In general, if the right paw is raised, it means that the cat is beckoning customers to come into businesses to buy shopowners’ wares. If the left paw is raised, it means that the cat is wooing wealth – metaphorically waving money into our lives.
What if both paws are raised? This is a rare occurrence that apparently didn’t start showing up until the early 2000s. With increasingly crushing financial crises’, clever manufacturers started making Maneki Neko cats with both arms flailing in the air. Symbolically, this is meant to encourage any kind of luck we can get in financially crunching times. Either that, or this version of the Maneki Neko cat might imply “hands up” in a kind of surrendering gesture. I’m rooting for the former meaning rather than the latter.
Ways to Incorporate the Maneki Neko Cat in Your Life
There are a number of ways you can work the Maneki Neko cat into your life for a little extra luck. Here are some ideas:
- Keep a Maneki Neko cat figurine in your home or office to attract good luck.
- Wear Maneki Neko cat-themed jewelry or clothing.
- Display Maneki Neko cat items in your home or office.
- Give Maneki Neko cats as gifts to friends and family.
- Use Maneki Neko cat products, such as stationery, notebooks, and cell phone cases.
Tips on Choosing the Right Maneki Neko Cat for You
When it comes to choosing a Maneki Neko cat, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Here are some tips on choosing the right Maneki Neko cat for you:
What’s Your Intent?
Consider what you want the cat to represent. Maneki Neko cats can represent different things, such as good luck, fortune, and protection. Choose a cat that represents what you wish for in your life.
Choose Your Color
Pick a color that appeals to you. Maneki Neko cats come in many different colors, each with its own meaning. For example, red is associated with good luck and prosperity, while black is associated with protection and warding off evil spirits (see Maneki Neko Cat Color Meanings above for tips). Choose a color that you find aesthetically pleasing or that has personal significance to you.
Consider the size of the cat. Maneki Neko cats come in various sizes, from small to large. Think about where you will be placing the cat and whether you want it to be noticeable or not. If you plan on putting the cat on your desk at work, for example, you may want to choose a smaller size so it doesn’t take up too much space. Or, if you want titanic luck, maybe you want to opt for a gigantic cat. It’s up to you.
Delight in the Details
Pay attention to the details. Some Maneki Neko cats have special features that make them unique. For instance, some cats have coins in their paws or waves their paw differently from others. Consider what details are important to you and choose a cat that has them.
Consider the Source
This is a personal preference, but in choosing the right Maneki Neko, I would seek one that was made with love. Let’s face it. Millions (if not billions) of mass-produced kitschy cats get churned out in faceless factories. For me, that doesn’t inspire vibes of luck, happiness, or prosperity. So, when I sought the right Maneki Neko for me, I spent a lot of time looking for an independent artist in NYC’s China Town (with my friend Haruto’s help). Eventually, I found the perfect artist and procured the most delightful hand-crafted Maneki Neko cat that I still cherish to this day.
Make Your Own
If none of the cunning cats on the market appeal to you, why not make your own? You can carve one from wood, or sculpt one from clay. You can even paint an image of a Maneki Neko to appease your need for more luck in your life.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Maneki Neko Cat
The Maneki Neko cat is a popular Japanese folklore character that is believed to bring good luck and fortune to its owner. The name Maneki Neko literally means “beckoning cat”, and it is often seen with its paw raised in a beckoning gesture. It is also common to see the Maneki Neko with a coin in its mouth, which symbolizes its ability to bring wealth and prosperity.
They are often thought to be Chinese in origin, but they actually started out in Japan. The exact origins of the Maneki Neko are unknown, but it is thought to have originated in Japan during the Edo period (1603-1868). The cat became particularly popular in Tokyo during the Meiji period (1868-1912) when it was seen as a symbol of good luck and fortune.
You can find Maneki Neko cats for sale at many souvenir shops in Japan, as well as online retailers. They come in a variety of colors, sizes, and styles, so you’re sure to find one that suits your taste
Concluding Thoughts About the Maneki Neko Cat Meaning
In closing, I hope I’ve covered all the highlights regarding the waving cat meaning. Mostly, I hope this article inspires you to explore more about the Maneki Neko and maybe even procure one for yourself or a loved one. The message behind this iconic image is one of joy and fortune – two things we can all use a little more of in our lives! So, whether you are looking to bring good luck into your home or give someone else some much-needed luck, this cute little kitty may be just what you need.
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