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The Origin of the Maneki Nekos

January 19, 2016 Jessica 0 Comments


Image courtesy of pixabay.com

What is a Maneki Nekos? If you’re a fan of good luck charms or Japanese culture you’ll know that it is a cat figurine. A Maneki Nekos usually has a calm facial expression and a paw raised to the sky.

Have you ever seen a Maneki Nekos? Perhaps you have but did not know what it was. According to the Japan Monthly Web Magazine, a Maneki Nekos (translated “beckoning or welcoming cat”) is “a lucky charm that invites happiness. It is said that the one with its right paw raised invites money and the one with its left paw raised invites people.”

In Japan, Cats Symbolize Good Luck

North American readers may be a little confused as to why a cat would symbolize good luck. After all, in certain cultures, black cats are very bad luck. Not so in Japanese culture. In Japan, cats may have obtained their good reputations from faithfully getting rid of crop-damaging rats. Because they did their owners this good service, cats became associated with good luck. Somewhere in the middle of the 18th century, the Maneki Nekos (beckoning or welcoming cat) was born. Since this time, it is not at all uncommon to see a cat figurine stand guard at the door of a Japanese home or shop.

The Origin of the Maneki Nekos


Image courtesy of pixabay.com

There are several different claims about the Maneki Neko’s origin. One legend, mentioned in the Japan Monthly Web Magazine’s article What is That Cat?!, describes the cat’s rise to fame this way:

“An old woman was forced to let go of her dear cat due to extreme poverty. And she let the cat go in Imado Shrine. That night the cat appeared in her dream and said, ‘You will be happy if you make a doll in the image of me.’ So she made ceramic dolls in the image of her cat and sold them to see what happens. Soon after, the dolls became popular and that made the old woman happy. Today, a pair of female and male Maneki Neko sitting close together in Imado Shrine has become famous. And the shrine is popular among young women as a shrine of ‘Enmusubi (tying the knot)’ that helps to get married. At the shrine a big beckoning cat welcomes the visitors.”

Does the Maneki Nekos fascinate you? Do you love Japanese culture? Do you enjoy paint-by-number projects? If so, you’ll adore Segmation’s Maneki Nekos digital paint-by number-pattern. All you need to do to start “painting” on your iPhone, iPad, iPod, or Android is download the FREE SegPlay app, then the adorable Maneki Nekos pattern. Let us know what you think of the product in the “comments” section below!

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