Maneki Neko – 10 Interesting Facts You Must Know!

If you’ve ever wanted attention-grabbing decor that has a fascinating history, is the topic of several urban legends and is rumored to bring luck, you should look into purchasing a Maneki Neko statue.

These adorable beckoning cat figurines are brimming with fun facts and make a fun addition to your home decor.

Here are just a few conversation starters you can use.

1. Maneki Neko Means Beckoning Cat

photo of many maneki neko cats at gotokuji temple near tokyo

The Japanese phrase “Maneki Neko” is literally translated to mean “beckoning cat.”

While some of the figurines simply are poised and appear ready to move, others have a moving arm that beckons any passersby. Place one by your front door to beckon luck into your home.

2. The Interesting History of the Beckoning Cat Goes Back to the Edo Period

photo of gotokuji temple

According to one legend, the cat figurine beckons because a weary traveler was making his way past a temple in Edo.

As he passed, a cat sat outside and beckoned the man to follow.

The man followed the cat into the temple and began to look around.

Shortly after his entrance to the temple, a large and sudden thunderstorm rolled through Edo.

The man, so grateful to the cat for bringing him to shelter from the storm, raised money, and purchased the temple to be his family temple.

It later became Gotokuji Temple.

Soon, the Maneki Neko became an offering of gratitude which evolved into a figure thought to bring luck. This is the most popular legend.

3. You Can Find Thousands of Maneki Neko Figurines at Gotokuji Temple

As I mentioned before, Maneki Neko originates at Gotokuji temple, at least if you follow the aforementioned legend.

While it’s not likely that random people meandering near Gotokuji temple will be beckoned by a cat, the temple is a popular place for the figurines.

In fact, there are shelves that are filled to the brim with as many Maneki Neko figurines as can be crammed onto a single surface.

As the main setting of the origin story of Maneki Neko, Gotokuji is currently filled with many different varieties of the beckoning cat statue, so that tourists can invite luck into their own lives.

4. The Opposing Origin Story is that Maneki Neko Originates in China

While many agree that the traveler in Edo is the basis for Maneki Neko, there are some who believe that the Maneki Neko actually originates in China.

However, these claims are being refuted by citing that while the happy little cat figurines are actually popular in China, they did not originate there.

Maneki Neko first gained popularity in the feng shui movement in China, but its origin remains in Japan.

5. Each Paw has a Different Ability

You will usually see three different styles of Maneki Nekos with either their left paw up, right paw up, or both paws up.

Left Paw Raised

illustration of maneki neko with right paw raised

A Maneki Neko beckoning with it’s left paw invites people into the building it sits beside.

Right Paw Raised

illustration of maneki neko with left paw raised

The Maneki Neko that beckons with its right paw is said to bring money and good fortune, usually in a business sense.

Both Paws Raised

illustration of maneki neko with both paws raised

As you might have guessed, a Maneki Neko with both paws raised is a combination of the two above. This lucky cat invites people/customers in and is said to bring money and good fortune too.

6. Each Color of Maneki Neko has a Different Meaning

Maneki Neko comes in a variety of colors, each with its own significance.

Tri-Colored Maneki Neko

illustration of a maneki neko

The most common is the tri-colored cat. It is said that the tri-colored Maneki Neko brings general good fortune to its owner because it is modeled after the Japanese bob-tailed cat.

White Maneki Neko

illustration of a white maneki neko

The all-white Maneki Neko is supposed to bring its owner happiness and purity.

Gold Maneki Neko

illustration of a gold maneki neko

If you have a gold Maneki Neko, this is supposed to bring vast wealth to the person lucky enough to own it.

Red Maneki Neko

illustration of a red maneki neko

When you find a Maneki Neko in red, this figurine is supposed to ward off illness, especially in children.

Pink Maneki Neko

illustration of a pink maneki neko

The pink Maneki Neko is ideal for those who have a sense of romance because this cat is supposed to beckon love into your life.

Green Maneki Neko

illustration of a green maneki neko

The green Maneki Neko should probably be handed out during the first week of college because it is supposed to bring prosperity to your studies.

Black Maneki Neko

illustration of a black maneki neko

Perhaps the most fascinating of all the colors are the black Maneki Neko. While black cats in western culture are thought to be a symbol of bad luck, the black Maneki Neko figurine is supposed to keep away stalkers and general evil.

7. The Different Decorations on a Maneki Neko Mean Different Things too

Maneki Neko is generally adorned with a bib, collar, or a bell. This is a sign of wealth dating back to the Edo period, where families would dress up their cat to show their economic status.

While one paw beckons to those passing the Maneki Neko, the other is usually holding something and each of the things that Maneki Neko holds represents something slightly different.

Maneki Neko with a Koban

illustration of maneki neko with koban

If Maneki Neko clutches a koban, which is a coin from the Edo period, this is supposed to represent wealth that is brought to the owner of Maneki Neko.

Maneki Neko with a Carp

illustration of maneki neko with carp

Other Maneki Nekos grasp a fish, generally a carp, bringing the owner good fortune.

Maneki Neko with Mallet

illustration of maneki neko with mallet

If you should come across a Maneki Neko holding a small hammer, this is actually a magic money mallet thought to bring wealth when it gets shaken.

Maneki Neko with Magic Ball

image of maneki neko with 8 ball

Occasionally, Maneki Neko can be seen holding a small marble or gem. This is thought to be a magic ball that brings wisdom to the owner.

Maneki Neko with a Gourd

image of maneki neko with gourd

If your Maneki Neko is holding a gourd, this is supposed to ward off evil spirits.

8. There is a Japanese Holiday Dedicated to this Cat

While not a holiday that dates back many centuries, The Day of Maneki Neko is a fun, high spirited holiday in Japan.

Falling on the 29th of September, this holiday celebrates the happy figurines believed to bring so much luck to the owners.

9. So, Where Do I put Maneki Neko and Which Way Should the Lucky Cat Face?

Did you know that even the placement of your cat is important to get the most luck out of it?!

Here is everything you need to know in order to make sure your lucky cat is placed in its luckiest location.

If you are putting Maneki Neko in your place of business, it is imperative that the lucky cat is placed near a public entrance where all who enter can see it.

However, if that is absolutely not an option, place the beckoning cat in close proximity to office space, preferably in a northeast corner.

An additional twist is that different colored cats should be placed in different places too, so here is what you need to know!

Gold Maneki Neko

illustration of a gold maneki neko

If you have a gold Maneki Neko and want prosperity for your children or increased creativity, place the cat in the west corner. You can also help the main income earner of the house, by making sure it’s located in the northwest part of the house.

Black Maneki Neko

illustration of a black maneki neko

If you are looking to gain better health, place a black Maneki Neko in the east part of the house.

Pink or Red Maneki Neko

illustration of a red maneki neko

The pink or red Maneki Neko can enhance your romantic relationship if you place it in the southwest part of the house and will bring success or fame if it is placed in the south corner of the house.

Green Maneki Neko

illustration of a green maneki neko

Romance, education, travel, and writing will be helped if you place a green Maneki Neko in the south or southeast part of the house.

White Maneki Neko

illustration of a white maneki neko

The white Maneki Neko can also be placed in the northwestern part of the house to bring good connections and opportunities for travel. So, choose the placement of Maneki Neko wisely.

10. You Can Easily Buy a Maneki Neko figurine Online or In Person

Obviously, you can go to Japan and buy a Maneki Neko, and honestly, I think the Maneki Neko figurine you can purchase AT the Gotokuji temple is the best, but you might not have that option right this moment.

Have no fear!

If you have a World Market near you, most locations carry some version of the Maneki Neko figurine.

If you’re hard-pressed to find a World Market, but you have a Wal-Mart near you, they too carry the Maneki Neko figurines.

Wal-Mart also has a few options available for online purchase.

If you’re looking for another place to get a lucky cat online, Amazon is always a good place to look obviously.

There are several Maneki Neko options available through Amazon including this collection of cats.

There’s also this cool website called Goods from Japan where you can buy a Maneki Neko or other Japanese trinkets.

So, go and enjoy your newfound, beckoned wealth and prosperity.

17 thoughts on “Maneki Neko – 10 Interesting Facts You Must Know!”

  1. Cool article. In most U.S. cities of 50,000 or more, I would think you could probably find Maneki Nekko figurines for sale in Asian grocery stores.

    • Thanks for checking it out! Yes, I definitely agree. I’ve seen them around the Asian grocery store before and even bought one of the cheap plastic ones a long time ago haha

  2. What makes my Lucky Cat wave? Sometimes it’s waiving and often at night it will stop but is going again when I wake up in the morning? Sometime it goes rather quickly and other times slowly? It’s awesome, but what causes this? It has not battery etc?

    • Hi Sandi,
      Thanks for your question! It sounds like your lucky cat might have a solar panel which powers it, but I’m not sure without seeing it. If you want to send an image of your lucky cat to my email [email protected] I’d be more than happy to look at it further though!

    • Hi Caster! Thanks for the question and I’m sorry to hear about your Gold Lucky Cat. The good news is that I’m not aware there is any meaning behind a Maneki Neko falling down. I understand there is meaning behind where you place it, but I’ve yet to find information to confirm if there are negative meanings if it breaks, falls down, etc.
      I hope this helps! If you have any more questions, just let me know.

    • Hi Jay! Thanks for your question. Yes, I don’t imagine that would be a problem. I understand many people have more than one cat in their house so I think having more than one cat pin in your office wouldn’t be an issue.

  3. Sir,
    I am India, can i keep a photo of the Lucky cat,
    Will keeping a photo give same benefit as ceramic or other metal ones?

    • Hi Ninya! Thanks for your question. I honestly do not know the right answer but I think if you respectfully discard it in a reasonable way it will be fine!

  4. I purchased an beckoning cat for my car. I noticed that the ones I got have shirts instead of bibs and or other accessories, does this effect them in anyway, And is there
    anything that could be seen as offencive or frowned open to do with them, because I do not want to offend anyone if they saw them. I also don’t know much about the traditions that may go with them, but I respect them and the gods/ deities and or people associated with them, I am happy to learn.


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