Maneki Neko – 3 Interesting Facts About This “Lucky Cat”

Posted on: 2nd September 2014

In Japan and China it is very common to see a cat with one paw raised wherever you go – in restaurants, shops, hotels, homes, and so on. Nowadays, with information shared through the Internet, you find these lovely figurines all over the world, inviting good fortune.

How Did This Legend Start?

There are many stories behind the origin of the Maneki Neko, which translates in Japanese as “beckoning cat”. But one that is most commonly told is that about a story dating 17th – 19th Century, a period referred to historians as the Edo period.

The story has it that once upon a time during a lighting storm a wealthy man caught unawares while travelling took shelter under a tree. Opposite the tree there was a temple and at the temple entrance there was a cat which raised its paws as if beckoning the man inside. Intrigued, the man left the shelter of the tree and walked towards the temple, when a lightning streak hit the tree he just left behind.

Grateful that the cat saved his life, he spend a lot of money in the welfare of that temple where the cat lived. When the cat died, a statue was built in its honor.maneki neko lucky cat

What Does The Raised Paw Mean?

Everything about the cat means something. The raised paw, if it is the left one indicates that it would attract customers; if it is the right paw, it means it attracts money and plenty of good fortune. If both paws are raise – though this is quite rare – it means it attracts protection.

What Does The Color Of The Cat Mean?

The color of the lucky cat is symbolic as well. The majority of the Maneki Neko cats would have orange spots, but there are many other colors you would see as well:

-      Calico – this is the color which is considered to be the luckiest; it is also the most common you will find. The “lucky cat” is traditionally this color. With time, other colors were brought in, each with their own special meanings.

-      Green – this color will attract good health.

-      Black – this color is found where people feel the need to ward off evil spirits.

-      Red – this color will bring love and romantic relationships.

-      Gold –this color invites wealth and prosperity.

-      White – the white color attracts positive things, purity of heart and happiness.

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