Japanese Beckoning Cats
The adorable maneki neko is believed to bring prosperity to those who take good care of them. You’ll find them everywhere in Japan—people’s homes, storefronts, and even temples.On this page, you can view our handpicked collection of maneki neko dolls, all authentic and 100% made in Japan.
Learn About Maneki Neko - Japanese Beckoning Cats
What exactly is a maneki neko?
If you have ever entered a restaurant or shop in Japan, chances are that you were greeted by a small cat figurine sitting at the entrance or next to the register with one of its paws raised. This is a maneki neko - also known as “lucky cat” or “beckoning cat” in English - and it’s there to attract customers and bring luck to the business owner.
Why is the maneki neko called a “beckoning cat?”
If you come from an English-speaking country, you’ll probably be puzzled by the name “beckoning cat.”
In the Western world, most people will extend their hand with the palm facing up and fingers bent, and then stretch and bend the index finger in a repetitive motion to call someone over.
In Asia, however, people will raise their arm and wave their hand downwards, palm facing down - just like the maneki neko.
Maneki Neko Materials
The material used doesn’t affect the meaning or purpose of the maneki neko. It’s mostly a question of design and durability. Here are some of the most common materials maneki neko are made from.
Ceramic: Long-lasting and easy to clean. It is by far the most common and popular choice.
Fabric: These require a bit more care, but they have unusual designs like floral or geometric patterns. They are often textured, which makes them feel nice to the touch. The appearance will slowly change over the years as the maneki neko is exposed to sunlight and the usual wear and tear, aging together with its owner.
Plastic: These are popular in stores and restaurants due to how easy they are to clean and their low price. However, they can sometimes look a bit cheap.
Wood/Metal/Stone: Sturdy and highly durable. However, only a few places in Japan still make this type of maneki neko. You can sometimes find them at temples or long-established businesses.
Maneki Neko Paw Symbolism
Left Paw: A raised left paw is believed to attract more customers, so it is the most common type used at businesses like shops and restaurants.
Right Paw: A raised right paw attracts more luck in life, so it is most commonly used in private homes.
Both Paws: A maneki neko with both paws raised is not a common sight, but it is said to provide protection to the house or establishment.
Paws Facing Backwards: This is a special type of maneki neko used by businesses that frequently deal with English-speaking countries, as it mimics the beckoning gesture used by Westerners.
Height of the Paw: The higher the paw is raised, the farther its reach - and hence, the more powerful.
Maneki Neko Accessories
There are far too many maneki neko accessories to list, but here are some of the most common ones.
Koban Coin: Usually has the inscription “1 million gold pieces” in Japanese. Said to bring money to the establishment.
Money Mallet: Another accessory symbolizing wealth.
Fish: Symbolizes abundance and good fortune, especially if it is a “koi” carp.
Marble: Indicates wisdom, and therefore luck in studies and exams.
Daikon Radish: Represents abundance.
Prayer Tablet: Believed to welcome good fortune.
Drum and Fan: Said to bring good luck in business, with the drum symbolizing a place “overflowing with customers.”
Maneki neko color symbolism
Calico: A classic and believed to be the luckiest of all maneki neko.
White: Said to bring happiness and represent purity.
Black: In Japan, a black cat does not mean bad luck! On the contrary, they are believed to ward off evil.
Gold/Yellow: Believed to bring financial wealth.
Red: Symbolizes good health. Some also believe they can help bring luck in marriage and other long-lasting relationships.
Pink: Provides its owner with good luck in romantic matters.
Green/Blue: Symbolizes good family health and luck with studies.
Where Should You Place Your Maneki Neko?
When it comes to the placement of your maneki neko, the most important thing to keep in mind is to put it in a visible place - they do not like to be hidden away in a closet! Generally speaking, placing the maneki neko in a high spot and making it face the entrance is the best way to enhance its positive effects.
Some people believe that placing the maneki neko in accordance with feng shui and its color will bring out extra powers. Below are some examples:
- The calico cat can be placed anywhere in the house for optimal luck.
- The positive energy of a white cat can bring career opportunities when placed in the north section of a room.
- The black maneki neko will help ward off sicknesses when placed in the east part of the house, whereas it’ll bring more money when placed in the north corner.
- Golden cats belong in your “wealth corner,” specifically the southeast corner of the room. Placed in the west corner, the cat will increase your creativity.
- Placed in the south corner of your home, a red maneki neko will bring recognition, success, and fame.
- Pink maneki neko are at their best in the southwest corner of a room where they will bring luck in love. For maximum effect, the room should be your bedroom.
- Placing a green maneki neko in the east corner is good for your health. They enhance your overall luck when placed in the south or southeastern part of your home.
How to Dispose of Your Maneki Neko
Once your maneki neko has served its purpose and it’s time to retire it, it’s important to do it the right way to show your gratitude and respect.
The proper way to dispose of your maneki neko would be to take it to a shrine or temple where it can be burned by monks in an official fire ritual. However, if you live very far from a shrine or temple, it’s okay to dispose of your maneki neko with the regular house garbage. Put your maneki neko in a clean bag together with some salt - which is believed to have purifying powers - before putting it out for garbage collection.
Whatever you do, remember to dispose of your maneki neko with gratitude, thanking it for all the luck and prosperity it has brought you!
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