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The History of Maneki-Neko: Why This Cat Is the Japanese Symbol of LuckBy GamblersPick May 05, 2020You likely recognize the adorable cat, Maneki-Neko. This cat is famous because it represents good luck in Japan. Click here to know its origins.
Have you noticed those adorable cat figurines waving at you in your local Asian restaurant or supermarket?
Did you know the cat has a name and a long, interesting history?
In Japanese, these cats are called Maneki-Neko, or "beckoning cat." They're often associated with hospitality and fortune, but there's more to the story than that.
Would you like to learn more about this Japanese lucky cat and how it can improve your luck? Read on!
The Story of Maneki-Neko
The history of Maneki-Neko dates back to the 18th- and 19th-century Edo period in Japan.
Legend has it that a wealthy lord named Ii Naotaka got caught in a violent thunderstorm. He saw a cat beckoning to him from a nearby temple and quickly moved into the temple from beneath a tree. Seconds later, a bolt of lightning hit the tree he'd been standing under!
Moved with gratitude, the Lord Ii befriended the cat and the temple priests, sharing his fortune and prosperity. Other versions of the story feature an old shopkeeper or a Samurai warrior, but the moral of the story is always the same—a cat that brings good luck.
The legend of Maneki-Neko spread and became popular in China, Thailand, and other Asian countries. It's also known by names like Lucky Cat, Welcoming Cat, and Waving Cat.
Today the cat is a common sight in restaurants, hotels, markets, and private homes. If you're a Pokemon fan, you'll also be interested to learn that the Meowth character is based on Maneki-Neko.
Variations of the Japanese Lucky Cat
Traditionally, Maneki-Neko is a calico cat waving its left paw, but there are many cultural variations.
A waving left paw is a sign of welcome for visitors and customers. A waving right paw is thought to invite money and luck into the home or business.
If you see a Maneki-Neko with two raised paws, it's both very welcoming and very lucky!
A white cat symbolizes happiness and good things to come, while black cats ward off evil spirits. A gold cat (not surprisingly) is connected to wealth and prosperity.
There's also a green cat for good health and a red cat for success in romantic relationships.
3. Lucky Items
You might occasionally see a lucky cat holding:
- a coin
- a fish
- a mallet (small hammer)
- a marble
- a gem
- a radish or gourd
In Asian cultures, each of these items is associated with fortune and good luck. Do you see the common theme here?
Japan's Neko Cat: Will It Help Your Luck?
We may not know the exact story behind Maneki-Neko's origins, but we do know that the cat has a deep connection with luck.
From saving ancient Japanese lords to greeting you at your favorite Chinese restaurant, Maneki-Neko has a rich and fascinating history. So the next time you see one waving at you, now you'll know why!
How has your luck been at the casino lately? Could a Neko cat of your own help to turn your luck around?
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