Things You Need To Know About The Maneki-Neko

You’ve seen this popular pussycat for sure. They say this kitty with a “come here” gesture brings luck that’s why plenty of business establishments, even those small stalls in the streets have one. Here in Manila, you’re more likely to see this in Chinatown. Ahaaaa… But is it even Chinese?

Maneki Neko in Binondo

I’ve always called it Lucky Cat or Fortune Cat, but I found out recently that it’s Maneki-Neko, literally “Beckoning Cat” in Japanese. So yes, one of the most important things you need to know about it is that it originated from Japan and not China. Historians are still arguing if it originated from Osaka or Tokyo, though.

There’s a Japanese belief that a cat washing its face means a visitor will arrive soon. This is related to an old Chinese proverb that if a cat washes its face, it will rain. Thus, a belief was born that a figure of a cat washing its face would bring in customers.

Twin beckoning cats welcome visitors to Imado Shrine in Asakusa, Tokyo.

Twin beckoning cats welcome visitors to Imado Shrine in Asakusa, Tokyo.

Ang labo lang, di ba? Pusa… tubig… hugas mukha… and then boom… A talisman of good fortune! And get this, there’s more to the beckoning chubby arm of this feline figurine. The color, the paw, and the props like the coin and the bib play a part on what kind of luck Maneki-Neko gives its owner.

According to this blog that is solely dedicated to the Maneki-Neko, if the right paw is raised, it invites money and good fortune (usually to businesses) and if the left paw is raised, then it invites customers or people. It invites protection of home or business if both paws are raised. If it’s with a coin, it invites wealth and material abundance, and if it’s with a bib and bell, it relates to protection, as well as wealth and material abundance.

maneki neko 3

Here are the colors and their specific charms–

Tri-color Cat: (modeled after the Japanese bob-tail breed, this is a popular & traditional color for lucky cats, beckoning general good luck, wealth, prosperity)
White Cat: purity, happiness
Black Cat: safety, wards off evil and stalkers
Golden Cat: wealth and prosperity
Red Cat: protection from evil & illness (especially illness in children)
Pink Cat: (a more modern color): love, relationships and romance
Green Cat: (also a modern color): educations/studies

Maneki Neko x Hello Kitty

Personally, I don’t believe in objects bringing me luck, but I’d like to get a Hello Kitty Maneki Neko when I visit Japan late this year. It wouldn’t bring me luck, but it would certainly bring cuteness to my room.

* All images were googled.

// listening to Paul Anka – Smells Like Teen Spirit

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