Have you ever seen a cat with its paw raised, as if it’s waving hello? If so, you’ve seen a maneki-neko, or “beckoning cat.” These cats are popular in Japan and are believed to bring good luck. In fact, there’s even a holiday dedicated to them: Maneki-Neko Day. We’ve got everything you need to know about Japan’s Lucky Beckoning Cat.
When is Maneki-Neko Day?
Maneki-neko Day is celebrated every year on September 29.
Maneki-Neko Day is mainly celebrated in Japan, but it has begun to gain traction in other parts of the world as well. In 2020, for example, San Francisco held its first ever Maneki-Neko Day festival. The event featured Japanese cultural performances, food trucks, and vendors selling maneki-neko items.
How did the Beckoning Cat begin?
The origins of the Maneki-Neko are unclear, but some believe it began in the Edo period in Japan (1603-1868). There are many stories about how the maneki-neko came to be, but one of the most popular is the legend of Tama, the lucky cat of a wealthy lord named Tokugawa Ieyasu.
The story goes that Ieyasu was taking refuge from a storm under a tree when he saw Tama beckoning him into the temple. Ieyasu took shelter in the temple and shortly thereafter, an lightning bolt struck the tree he had been standing under. Ieyasu believed Tama had saved his life and bestowed upon him great luck and riches.
As a result, Tama became known as the “beckoning cat of good fortune” and maneki-neko became popular symbols of luck and is often seen in storefronts and restaurants.
In addition to being a popular good luck charm, the Maneki Neko is also often seen as a symbol of obedience and loyalty. This is because in Japan, cats were traditionally considered to be clean animals. As a result, the Maneki Neko came to represent everything that was positive about cats, and it remains a popular figure in Japan today.
Which paw does the Beckoning Cat raise?
Although the Beckoning Cat figure is traditionally depicted as a cat with one paw raised, it’s not always the same paw that is raised!
If the left paw is raised, one popular belief is that it represents the cat beckoning customers into a shop.
If the cat’s right paw is raised in this popular Japanese lucky charm, some believe that it signifies financial success, as the raised paw represents an abundance of money flowing in. Another interpretation is that it brings good health. And finally, some believe that a Maneki Neko with his right paw raised bringing good luck in love, as the Japanese word for “right” can also mean “love.”
Also, it is said that the higher the paw is raised, the greater the luck that will be bestowed.
Whichever interpretation you choose to believe, there’s no denying that the Maneki Neko is a powerful symbol of good fortune.
What do the different Lucky Cat colors mean?
The figurine is traditionally depicted as a white cat with black and red spots and a raised paw, but it can also be found in a variety of other colors.
While the white maneki neko is said to bring good luck, each color is believed to have its own special meaning.
- The pure white Maneki Neko is a symbol of purity.
- The red maneki neko is thought to bring good fortune in love and relationships and good health.
- The green figurine is to bring good fortune in school.
- The pink lucky cat is thought to bring romance.
- The gold beckoning cat is said to be beckoning good fortune.
- The black maneki neko is said to protect against evil forces.
How can I celebrate Maneki-Neko Day?
If you want to celebrate Maneki-Neko day but don’t live in Japan, don’t worry! There are plenty of ways to participate from anywhere in the world.
One way is to buy or make your own maneki-neko. These cats can be found for sale online or at Japanese markets. These cats are usually made of ceramic or plastic and have their paw raised, as if they’re waving hello. They’re often found in the front windows of stores or businesses and are thought to bring good luck.
You can also find kits to make your own maneki-neko out of clay or fabric. Once you have your own beckoning cat, put it on display in your home or office–just like they would be in a store window in Japan!
Another way to celebrate is by eating typical Japanese foods like sushi or tempura. Or, if you want something sweet, try mochi balls or dango skewers dipped in syrup. And don’t forget to wash it all down with some green tea! Finally, take some time to learn more about Japanese culture and history. Maybe even watch a movie set in Japan or read a book about samurai warriors.
But perhaps the best way of all is celebrate the day with your own cat. After all, we all know our cats are lucky!
More Cat Holidays to Enjoy
Respect Your Cat Day
Global Cat Day
Celebrate International Cat Day (You Know Your Cat Wants To!)
And don’t miss our post with all the cat holidays throughout the year!
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