Let’s thoroughly understand the meaning of the lucky cat or Maneki Neko! In addition to the smiling face that gives a happy feeling to the exhibition space, the display of the lucky cat has other meanings hidden deep behind.
To help you understand this most popular lucky symbol in Japan, I will first introduce to you the origin of the lucky cat: Maneki Neko.
There are many legends about the birth of Maneki Neko, but the most popular is the legend of Gotoku temple.
In the 17th century, a poor monk lived in a small temple in Tokyo. Although his life is very difficult, he still shares his meager meal for his pet cat Tama. One day, Lord Nakaota Ii of Hikone district on the way to hunt, suddenly a storm came and he had to stay safe under a big tree near the temple.
He noticed that the cat raised one leg as if waving him to the temple. Curious, he left his cover, headed for the temple to have a better look at the strange cat. At the same time, a lightning bolt destroyed the tree he had just stood.
Nakaota was so grateful, he became the patron of the temple, repaired it to become more spacious and renamed it Gotoku temple in 1697. When Tama died, he was buried in the graveyard for the cats. In the temple and the statue of Maneki Neko was made to commemorate this special cat that has been born since.
The name Maneki Neko (kanji: 招 き 猫 hiragana ま ね き ね こ) can be interpreted as a Waving Cat or a Chant of a Chant.
Since its appearance, Maneki Neko is considered a symbol of luck, bringing good fortune to families and shops that place its statues at the entrance. If you have a chance to visit Japan, you will see the image of this cat in most stores, companies or banks here.
Maneki Neko can be found with a variety of designs, colors, each has different meaning.
The meaning of the lucky cat Maneki Neko in shape:
The Lucky Cats are often waved left or both front legs. The importance of waving left or right depends on the time and place. It is believed that cats waving their left leg will drive many customers to the shop, and waving their right leg will bring good luck and fortune. Cats put both legs up, meaning to protect, help the family, the business is always safe and convenient. The higher the cat’s legs, the more customers, money or luck will come to the store.
There is also a belief originated from an ancient Chinese tradition: “When cats put their feet to rub their eyes, they will come to the house.”
The meaning of the lucky cat Maneki Neko in color:
– Triangle (3 color): is the most popular color and is also considered the luckiest.
– White: symbolizing purity, purity
– Black: bring health, ward off evil spirits. Today, the black Maneki Neko is popular among Japanese women to help protect them from dangerous harassers.
– Red: also works to help us avoid evil and disease.
– Pink: not a traditional color, but now it is very popular in praying for love.
– Green: Advantages in studying.
– Gold: symbolizes wealth, money is full of houses.
The meaning of the Maneki Neko in the its mascot
Maneki Neko is usually decorated with necklaces, bells and bibs, which are popular for cats in wealthy households during the Edo period, and some other lucky symbols such as:
– Koban: is an ancient gold coin from the Edo period, symbolizing fortune. 1 koban is counted as a ryou and the money that Maneki Neko cat is worth up to 10 million ryou.
– Drums, axes, fans, sentences: expressing family style, often with accompanying words such as “opening up” with the meaning of opening the luck, “bliss” – calling the joy of coming, “the skill of advancement” – welcoming fortune, money of entering the house or many other words with good meaning.
– Fish, maybe a carp (Koi fish): a symbol of prosperity and luck, a talent, a success when taking examinations.
– Lottery: ear loss, disabling disease.
– Turtle: peace, prosperity.
– A marble, a gem: viewed as a money magnet, some people believe it to be a crystal ball and represent wisdom.