Fortune Cat

The beckoning cat seen in variety of Chinese / Asian owned businesses around the world is called Maneki Neko. In English it is called a lot of names as Beckoning Cat, Welcoming Cat, Lucky Cat or even Fortune Cat. Contrary to my original belief, it is actually a Japanese origin, supposed to bring luck to the owner. It takes a shape of a bobtail beckoning with upright paw with some sort of decoration around the neck, such as collar, bib, neckerchief or a bell. Most precious ones are made from ceramic or porcelain. Mine, as cheap as I am, is made from plastic pretending to be solid gold. 😛

manekineko.jpg

 The legend of the lucky cat is a story from 17th century from a temple at outskirt of Tokyo. The temple was rundown and kept by a very poor priest. He shared what he had with his pet cat, Tama. One day, a wealthy and important man was caught in the middle of thunder storm while hunting and he took refuge under a big tree near the temple.

That was when he noticed a cat beckoning him to come inside the temple yard. He was so curious that he left his shelter to have a closer look at the cat. At that very moment the tree was struck by lightning. He then became friends with the priest and showered them with gifts. He also used his influence to bring many wealthy people to the Temple, and it soon became very prosperous.

When Tama died,  he was buried in the Goutokuji Temple’s cat cemetery with respect and love. A statue was made in his likeness, reflecting the beckoning, raised paw that had brought so much good fortune and prosperity to the owner.

Since then, people began placing figurines of cats with raised paws in their properties, hoping that it would bring the same kind of prosperity into their own lives, as that Tama had brought to the priest’s.

This post is dedicated to Adit

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10 Responses to “Fortune Cat”


  1. 1 adit January 23, 2008 at 9:38 am

    My deepest gratitude to you Andie for providing me with such extensive information *bow*

    THank you, thank you!

    I’ve asked a friend of mine to buy one for me too. The cheap one too of course hehehehe…

  2. 2 happysurfer January 23, 2008 at 11:47 am

    Interesting legend. Thanks for sharing it. Btw, the image is not showing up or is it just me?

  3. 3 LB January 23, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    Yeah, but it’s gonna be the Year of the Rat!! 🙂

  4. 4 andiesummerkiss January 23, 2008 at 2:56 pm

    Dear Adit,

    You are so welcome. It’s a good idea for a post. So you are cheap, just like me. Lol.

    Happysurfer,

    I double-checked, I think the image is alright .. Maybe if you try to reload it might work ..

    Dear LB,

    Gosh I totally forgot. Maybe I should tell everybody to keep the Neko in the closet for one year? Poor rat … It is going to be so … D–D

  5. 5 Mitsu January 23, 2008 at 4:05 pm

    Kawaii! Andie, you know I love Makeki Nekos! I have at least 4 of them:
    -a plastic one in my car
    -the same type in my office, only a different colour
    -2 at home.
    It’s funny that you should discuss this, because as a designer, I create a lot of cat-themed things. I’m actually designing a Maneki Neko tattoo right now. I’ll send it to you once I’m done.

  6. 6 Jientje January 23, 2008 at 9:35 pm

    That’s a beautiful legend Andie!
    I am giving you an award tomorrow, does that make you feel lucky too?

  7. 7 Paris Beaverbanks January 24, 2008 at 6:56 am

    LOL… what a coincidence that I wrote about a similar topic eh? From a different point of view, but same subject matter 😀

  8. 8 happysurfer January 24, 2008 at 7:15 am

    It’s showing up now. Thank you.

  9. 9 andiesummerkiss January 24, 2008 at 3:02 pm

    Dear Mitsu,

    Welcome back! Of course I would love to see your tatoo design. Please send it to me ok.

    Jientje,

    Wow. The lucky cat has brought me good luck already! Too bad I am going to chuck him away for a year. 😛

    Dear Paris,

    I KNOW! That is too weird …

    Happysurfer,

    There you go … You like it?

  10. 10 may January 27, 2008 at 9:09 am

    ahhhh, so that’s the story behind the “waving” cat! people used to tell me that it was saying “money come, money come, money come” with it’s hand… heheh! now I know better. thanks for sharing!


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