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History of Waving Lucky Cat "Maneki Neko"!

History of Waving Lucky Cat "Maneki Neko"

Maneki Neko, the iconic waving lucky cat, has become a ubiquitous symbol of good fortune and prosperity worldwide. Originating in Japan, this beckoning feline has a rich and fascinating history that spans centuries.

In this blog, we will delve into the captivating narrative of Maneki Neko, exploring its origins, cultural significance, and the reasons behind its widespread popularity.

Origin Story:

Maneki Neko, meaning "beckoning cat" in Japanese, is deeply embedded in Japanese folklore. One popular legend traces the origins of the waving cat to a small temple in Tokyo during the Edo period (17th to 19th century).

According to the tale, a poor temple priest and his cat were in dire straits. One stormy day, a wealthy samurai sought refuge under a nearby tree and noticed the cat beckoning him towards the temple. Curious, he followed the cat, and just as he reached safety, the tree was struck by lightning. Grateful for the cat's seemingly mystical intervention, the samurai generously donated to the struggling temple.

The cat's popularity soared, and soon, the image of the beckoning cat began to symbolize good fortune, prosperity, and protection from evil spirits.

Symbolism of Maneki Neko

Maneki Neko is laden with symbolism, each element contributing to its significance.

  • The raised paw, typically the right one, is believed to attract wealth and good fortune.

  • The left paw raised is said to attract customers and business success.

Maneki Neko comes in various colors, each with its unique symbolism. The most common colors include;

  • White for purity, 

  • Gold for wealth,

  • Black for protection against evil,

  • Pink for romance,

  • Red for good health.

The collar and bell around the cat's neck are significant symbols.

  • The bell is thought to ward off evil spirits and

  • The collar often features a bib or scarf with symbols like the koban (an oval gold coin) for prosperity.

Over time, Maneki Neko has evolved into various forms, with each variation carrying its own set of meanings. Some cats hold a koban or a mallet, symbolizing wealth and good luck, while others may have a fish, representing abundance and success.

Variation through Regions

Maneki Neko's popularity transcended Japanese borders and spread across Asia and beyond. Different regions adapted the figurine to suit their own beliefs and customs. The waving cat found its way to China, where it is known as the "beckoning cat of good fortune." In Chinese culture, businesses often display it to attract prosperity and success.

  • In China, the lucky cat is sometimes depicted with both paws raised, symbolizing protection and happiness.

  • In Korea, it is associated with warding off evil spirits and bringing good luck.

The Maneki Neko also made its mark in Western countries, where it is embraced for its cultural significance and charm. It has become a popular item in homes, businesses, and even as a quirky accessory.

Evolution of Maneki Neko

Traditional Beginnings:

Originally, Maneki Neko started as a simple ceramic cat with a painted paw raised in a beckoning gesture. These traditional designs mirrored the cat's historical roots and the tale of a beckoning cat saving a temple from financial trouble.

Modern Variations:

As time passed, creative minds introduced modern variations of Maneki Neko. Today, you can find electronic and solar-powered versions that mimic the classic beckoning motion. These technological adaptations add a contemporary twist to the traditional figurine.

Cultural Impact:

The waving lucky cat has become an integral part of Japanese and Asian culture, with its presence felt in various aspects of daily life. From restaurants and businesses to homes and public spaces, Maneki Neko is a constant reminder of the positive energy it is believed to bring.

Pop Culture Phenomenon:

Maneki Neko has become a part of popular culture, appearing in movies, TV shows, and literature. Its widespread recognition has turned it into a symbol associated with luck and a sense of cultural identity.

Business and Prosperity:

Many businesses, especially in Asia, consider Maneki Neko a charm that attracts customers and ensures financial success. The figurine is often displayed in shops and restaurants to invite prosperity.

Art and Collectibles:

The charm of Maneki Neko extends to the art world. Collectors seek rare and unique variations of the lucky cat, considering it not just a symbol but a form of artistic expression. Antique versions of Maneki Neko are highly valued among collectors.

Digital Representation:

In the age of technology, Maneki Neko has seamlessly transitioned into the digital realm. Virtual representations of the lucky cat can be found in emojis, gifs, and various online platforms, ensuring its presence in the digital cultural landscape.

Superstitions and Beliefs:

Maneki Neko has inspired various superstitions. People believe that the height of the raised paw or the color of the cat influences the type and intensity of luck it attracts. These superstitions add a layer of mystery and intrigue to the cultural impact of the lucky cat.

Maneki Neko in Today's Digital World:

In the contemporary world, Maneki Neko remains an ever-present figure in the global cultural landscape. Its widespread appeal is not limited to traditional beliefs; rather, it has become a symbol of positivity and good vibes.

Businesses worldwide incorporate the waving cat into their decor, hoping to attract good fortune and prosperity. From small local shops to multinational corporations, the charm of Maneki Neko continues to captivate people from all walks of life.

DIY Maneki Neko: Creating Your Own Waving Lucky Cat

If you've ever felt the urge to add a touch of good fortune to your life, making your own Maneki Neko, the waving lucky cat, can be a fun and creative way to do it. Here's a simple guide to crafting your DIY Maneki Neko:

Materials You'll Need:

1. Clay or Play-Doh,

2. Paints or Markers,

3. Paintbrushes,

4. Clear Varnish (optional)

   Clear varnish can be applied once the paint dries if you want to give your cat a glossy finish.

5. Craft Bell.

Step-by-Step Guide-

1. Shape the Body:

   Start by molding the clay or Play-Doh into a cat shape. It can be as simple or as detailed as you like. Traditionally, Maneki Neko has an upright posture, so ensure your cat stands on its hind legs.

2. Add the Paw:

   Form the paw that you want to raise. Most Maneki Neko statues have the right paw raised for wealth and prosperity. Smooth out the edges for a polished look.

3. Facial Features:

   Use small clay pieces to create the facial features – eyes, nose, and mouth. Make sure your cat has that friendly and inviting expression.

4. Painting

   Once the clay has dried or set, it's time to paint. Traditionally, Maneki Neko is white with black and gold details. Feel free to get creative with patterns and designs.

5. Collar and Bell:

   Attach them around your cat's neck if you've chosen to include a collar and bell. This adds a cute and traditional element to your DIY Maneki Neko.

6. Allow to Dry:

   Let your creation dry completely. You can apply clear varnish at this stage if you want to protect the paint and give it a shiny finish.

7. Place Your DIY Maneki Neko:

Once your lucky cat is all set and dry, find a special place in your home or workplace. Traditionally, it's believed that placing it by an entrance or near a cash register invites good fortune.

Remember, there's no right or wrong way to create your DIY Maneki Neko. It's all about having fun, expressing your creativity, and bringing some luck into your life. So, gather your materials, let your imagination run wild, and enjoy the process of crafting your very own waving lucky cat!


The captivating history of Maneki Neko reveals a tale of resilience, fortune, and cultural significance. From its humble beginnings in a Tokyo temple to becoming a global symbol of good luck, the waving cat has embedded itself in people's hearts worldwide.

As Maneki Neko continues to wave its paw, it carries a timeless message of hope, prosperity, and the enduring belief that a small gesture, even from a cat, can change the course of one's fortune. So, the next time you encounter the friendly wave of a Maneki Neko, remember the centuries-old story that has turned this simple feline figurine into a perfect beacon of good fortune.

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