If you've ever visited Japan, chances are you might have stumbled upon one of these unique cat figurines with their paws raised. They are usually found displayed on the cash register inside stores and restaurants, and they are known as maneki-neko (招き猫).
What is maneki-neko?
Maneki (招き) comes from a Japanese verb, maneku (招く), which means "to beckon", while neko (猫) means cat. Therefore, the most literal translation for maneki-neko in English is “a beckoning cat”. The cat has its paw raised as if it’s waving in good fortune for its owners. Other common monikers include Japanese Lucky Cat, Money Cat, and Welcoming Cat.
There are different stories about the origin of maneki-neko. Although the exact origin is not known, the first record on this good luck charm can be found in an old document dated back to 1852!
Also, did you know that Meowth from the famous Pokémon franchise was inspired by maneki-neko?
The meaning behind every gesture
There is actually a meaning behind which paw the cat is holding up.
Right paw raised: To invite money and good fortune (usually for businesses)
Left paw raised: To invite customers or people
Some suggest the right and left paws both invite business-related prosperity, but that the left paw is for businesses of the night, such as bars, geisha houses, and restaurants. The use of maneki-neko in homes is more recent.
Both paws raised: To invite protection for home or business
Also, the basic accessories of this Japanese lucky cat also have special significance.
Coin: Signifies wealth and material abundance
Bib and bell: May relate to protection, as well as wealth and material abundance (showing respect and veneration for the cat, caring for the cat and keeping it warm, displaying wealth, gold bell as a symbol of treasure -either material or non-material).
The meaning behind every color
While you will most commonly see a white maneki-neko with orange and black spots, there are quite a few color variations and each of them holds a special meaning.
Calico: Traditional color combination, considered to be the luckiest
White: Happiness, purity, and positive things to come
Gold: Wealth and prosperity
Black: Wards off evil spirits
Red: Success in love and relationships
Green: Good health
Maneki-neko can also be found holding gourds, prayer tablets, daikon radishes, and ingots. These items also represent wealth and good luck.
Regardless of the name, legend, raised paw, colors, or items in its paw, you basically can’t go wrong with a Fortune Cat perched by your side!
Where to get a maneki-neko?
Why not get one of these cute Japanese lucky cats directly from Japan? There are thousands of options available on Japanese marketplaces such as Rakuten Japan, Amazon Japan, and Yahoo! Shopping Japan in all price ranges, so you can make the best choice depending on your budget.
However, most retailers do not offer international shipping, which is why you should use ZenMarket! We have integrated Rakuten Japan, Yahoo! Auctions Japan, and Amazon Japan's websites into our own site, so you can access them directly without the hassle of registering a separate account for each of those sites. Plus, you don't have to know Japanese as the listings are automatically translated for you. All you need is a ZenMarket account, and you can add items from different Japanese online stores in one cart.
※Read a complete step-by-step guide on how to use ZenMarket here.
Check out kawaii maneki-neko items on the following Japanese online marketplaces:
Buy Maneki-neko From Rakuten Japan
Buy Maneki-neko From Yahoo! Shopping
Buy Maneki- neko From Amazon Japan
Different types of maneki-neko items
If you are not too fond of the normal maneki-neko, or find it too big to put on display in your room, you may opt for another maneki-neko-inspired item. Below are some of the varieties of merchandise you can get from Japanese online marketplaces.
Complete your style with this maneki-neko sukajan!
Get yourself one of these three models under the MANEKINEKO series!
Buy one of these kawaii maneki-neko piggy banks and decide your own fortune, by, erm, saving.
Other than the items above, there are tons of other products that you may find interesting such as chopsticks holder, key chains, underwear and a lot more! Contact us if you want us to find anything for you.
That's it for about maneki-neko or the beckoning cat. We hope you enjoy reading this-nyan!
About ZenMarket Japan
“Most Japanese online retailers don’t ship internationally, but we solve this problem. We buy, consolidate and ship Japanese goods to your address. Our goal is to make buying Japanese goods online as smooth as possible. We have integrated the biggest Japanese online shopping websites: Rakuten, Amazon, and Yahoo! Auctions. You can also make purchases from any other Japanese online shop or auction with us. Just add an item URL from the desired product page to the cart and place the order.” — From the website about section.
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