Wednesday, December 14, 2011

招き猫 (Beckoning Cat)

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Due to its popular presence within Chinese communities it is frequently mistaken for being Chinese in origin rather than Japanese and is mistakenly referred to as a Chinese Lucky Cat. While it is believed that Maneki Neko first appeared during the later part of the Edo period (1603–1867) in Japan the earliest documentary evidence comes from the 1870s, during Japan's Meiji Era. It is mentioned in a newspaper article in 1876 and there is evidence kimono-clad Maneki Neko were distributed at a shrine in Osaka during this time. An ad from 1902 advertising Maneki Neko indicates that by the turn of the century they were popular.

A frequent attribution to several Japanese emperors, as well as to Oda Nobunaga and samurai Ii Naotaka, is that one day the luminary passed by a cat, which seemed to wave to him. Taking the cat's motion as a sign, the unknown nobleman paused and went to it. Diverted from his journey, he realized that he had avoided a trap that had been laid for him just ahead. Since that time, cats have been considered wise and lucky spirits. Many Japanese shrines and homes include the figurine of a cat with one paw upraised as if waving—hence the origin of Maneki Neko, often referred to as Kami Neko in reference to the cat's kami or spirit.

Others have noted the similarities between the Maneki Neko's gesture and that of a cat washing its face. There is a Japanese belief that a cat washing its face means a visitor will soon arrive. This belief may in turn be related to an even older Chinese proverb that states that if a cat washes its face, it will rain. Thus it is possible a belief arose that a figure of a cat washing its face would bring in customers.

* article source Wikipedia


  1. It's really common to find that cat, sitting on the counters at the eateries here, beckoning people to enter the premise.

  2. Happy New year my dear Yoli! Wish you and your lovely kids and blissful year of 2012!
    Hugs and kisses!