Japan?s Lucky Cats

The Maneki Neko figurine has brought good luck to Japanese homes for centuries.

By Brad Kollus

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Cats have been popular around the world and throughout time. Nothing demonstrates this more than when the cat becomes part of a country’s culture, history and mythology. A perfect example of this is Maneki Neko, the beckoning cat of Japan that brings good luck and fortune.

Maneki Neko is a white, tricolor or tortoiseshell cat statue or figurine with its paw raised, often found in Japanese businesses and homes. Many experts believe the cat depicted in the figurines is a Japanese Bobtail. The figurines are popular throughout the country and have important meaning for people.

“Japanese culture is one where objects hold meaning for absolutely everything. The smallest charms or folk sculptures are not just decorative but infused with various meaning,” says Alan Pate, author of “Ningyo: The Art of the Japanese Doll” and the forthcoming “Collecting Japanese Dolls,” and the owner and curator of the Akanezumiya Japanese art gallery in St. Ignatius, Mont.

Maneki Neko’s paw is raised to beckon or welcome. A raised left paw signifies the beckoning of customers and brings good fortune or money to businesses, but also can indicate the beckoning of good luck. A raised right paw usually signifies the beckoning of good luck in people’s homes, but can signify bringing about money and good fortune to people. Maneki Neko figures have been created for centuries and come in many sizes, colors and materials; some carry various lucky charms.

**For the full article, pick up the December issue of CAT FANCY**

**Click here to read the CatChannel Exclusive on Maneki Neko’s darker origin tales**

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Reader Comments

Micah    Tacoma, WA

2/7/2009 10:06:53 AM

I bought a Maneki Neko figurine cat as a gift for myself last Christmas. It's the one that has a beckoning left paw that I bought from Border's Books. So far, the good luck that came to me is I was not affected by the huge economic crisis of the country. Indeed, Japan is so great around the world because of the way they treat animals, especially cats. Look at how they made Hello Kitty and became the highest paid feline character around the world aside from Garfield. Next time I will buy a green cat for luck in studies and a red cat figurine for luck in love.

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