What is Maneki-neko? 招き猫は何ですか?

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Maneki-neko (招き猫) literally means “beckoning cat”. You usually see them in the entrances of shops, restaurants, pachinko parlors, and other businesses. Some are even electric or battery powered and have a slow moving paw .

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To some westerns it seems as if the 招き猫 is waving rather than beckoning. This is because of a difference in culture. The Japanese beckoning gesture is made by holding the hand up palm down and repeatedly folding the fingers up and down. Some 招き猫 made specifically for some Western markets will have the cat’s paw facing backwards, in a beckoning gesture that is more similar to the western gesture.

The significance of the right and left raised paw differs with time and place. A common belief is that the raised left paw brings in customers, while a right paw brings good luck and wealth.

The most common color of the 招き猫 is white, followed by black and gold, and occasionally red is used as well. Some consider white to be for good luck generally, black for good health and to lure away evil spirits, and gold for monetary good fortune. Other popular colors include green and blue, which are both supposed to bring academic success, and pink, bringer of love.

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Some believe the 招き猫 origins started in Osaka (大阪) while others insist it was Tokyo(東京). The exact origins however are uncertain but, there are numerous folktales that offer some explanation.

For example in one folktale, an old woman, living in eastern Tokyo (東京) , was forced to sell her cat due to extreme poverty. Soon afterwards the cat appeared to her in a dream. The cat told her to make its image in clay. She did as instructed, and soon afterward sold the statue. She then made more, and people bought them as well. These 招き猫 were so popular she soon became prosperous and wealthy. 
Hopefully, this gives you an idea about the 招き猫. Personally, I think they are really cute and quite interesting! As always if you have any questions about this or any other topic I cover feel free to email me at colormeindie@gmail.com or leave a comment below. 
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