Maneki-neko is a common Japanese figurine [a cat with left/ right or both paws raised]. The Japanese believe this lucky charm/ talisman will bring good luck and prosperity to the owner, hence it is also called Money Cat, Lucky Cat or Beckoning Cat. You may find this figurine being displayed at many places especially businesses’ entrance or the cashier counter in Japan. For business owners, the cat is beckoning customers to the businesses.
There are quite a range of colour that you may find and the meaning behind:-
Calico Cat : The luckiest colour with the most traditional colour
White : Happiness, purity and positive energy
Black : Lure away evil spirits
Gold : Monetary good fortune
Pink : Love
Green/ Blue : Good Health & Academic success
Red : Success in relationship
So when do you buy the left paw, the right paw, both paws or a longer than usual paw raised Maneki-neko?
Left paw raised:
- Bring in customers (to beckon customers)
Right paw raised:
- Bring good luck and wealth (to beckon money)
Both paws raised:
- Bring in both customers and money! Oh yeah, this is quite popular!
High paw raised (You may find some with the paw raised in a ridiculous height):
- The higher the paw brings the greater luck to the owner. Some interprets it as the greater distance the fortune will come from.
Besides the colour and the paws, you may find the cat sometimes holds nothing but often time is holding a coin/ marble/ fish etc. What does that mean?
A coin with this word “千万両”
- It means Ten Million Ryo – Ryo was considered to be worth a lot back in Edo period.
A marble (crystal ball) or gem
- Represents wisdom
Magic money mallet
- Represents wealth
A fish or a carp
- Represents abundance and great fortune
Maneki-neko has always been one of the most popular souvenirs from Japan, in fact many of these have been sold in other countries. Who doesn't want to buy these little good luck charm and bring it home for friends and family?
In the modern days, Maneki-neko lucky cat has all sort of creative design. You may find the elegant cat with Japanese Kimono or even cute maneki-neko dressed like a Daruma Doll. Daruma Doll is another talisman of good luck to the Japanese.
In recent trips, I found the price of the food and souvenirs were more expensive in the suburbs as compared to the largest cities such as Tokyo. If you are price sensitive, you can always buy these common souvenirs anywhere in Tokyo.
After seeing all these Maneki-neko, have you collected any of these? Feel free to post your collection to share with us.
Japan is easily at the top of my travel list despite I have been there multiple times. I will update some travel information and tips from time to time.