Sunday, March 14, 2010

Maneki Neko 招き猫

Literally beckoning cat, the Maneki Neko is a common symbol (even outside Japan) believed to bring good luck. The origins of this symbol as well as the exact meanings of its accessories and posture seem unclear. In light of this, I will share an origin story that a friend told me some time ago in Hawaii: One day a luminary or nobleman passed by a cat, which seemed to wave to him. On a side note in Japan, unlike the west, to beckon someone it is customary to place your palm down, repeatedly folding your fingers toward the wrist and back. Taking the cat's motion as a sign, the man paused and left the trail to see it. Diverted from his journey he only then realized that he had avoided a trap that had been laid for him just ahead. Because the cat seemingly saved the noblemen's life its likeness was inshrined as a figurine with one paw upraised as if waving. This restaurant seemingly took the symbol very seriously as its dinners eat within the belly of a giant Maneki Neko.


  1. I love Maneki Neko. If you collect them as I do, you might enjoy this Maneki Neko app for the iPhone/iPod-touch.

    (Link requires iTunes installed.)

  2. Thanks for the link. . . I am trying out the LITE version. The gashapon machines in Japan have Maneki Neko phone straps right now that sing a little jingle that are kinda cool also.