What are the meanings behind the Japanese lucky cat?
It is likely that everyone at one stage or another has come across a Japanese lucky cat, whether it be at your local Japanese or Chinese restaurant, or a shop in Chinatown, but what do they actually mean? You may have wondered what the cat is and why it is such a prominent image in the Asian community. Is it just a novelty toy, or are the meanings more significant? You are about to find out.
What is the Japanese lucky cat?
The fortune cat is known as the Maneki Neko in Japanese, which translates to the “beckoning cat”. It is a cultural icon, which is very popular in China and Japan, and seen as a symbol of luck, prosperity, success and happiness. This is why you often see this cheeky little fellow on the top of cash registers, as it is waving good luck to the customers. Traditionally the cat comes in different colours and will have one paw raised. You will also notice that the cat wears a collar, bell, bib and a coin in a decorative style. The lucky cat has been iconic for centuries and originates from Japan.
What is the history of the Cat?
The specific place of the cat’s origin has many people divided. Some believe the cat originated in Osaka, while many believe it came from Edo, now commonly known as Tokyo. The lucky cat started to gain popularity in the Meiji period between 1868 and 1912. The cat started to appear in local papers and advertisements; this is some of the earliest evidence of the cat’s origins. Many also believe that the cat originated elsewhere due to many popular folktales. They tell the stories of noblemen been saved by cats and the pet cat of a Geisha girl been beheaded.
Whether you believe in fact or folktales, one thing is for sure that the Japanese lucky cat has survived for generations and is as strong an icon as ever.
Left paw or right paw?
Did you know that there is a difference in the meaning whether the cat has its left or right paw raised? No? Well you are not the only one. It is amazing how often you see these cats and don’t realise that they are holding up a different paw. The left paw helps to attract customers while the right paw invites good fortune and money. Sometimes you will also see both paws in the air; this is a sign of protection. Whether it is one, two or both hands in the air, they are sure to bring something special to your life.
What do the colours mean?
The colours are also one of the most important features when selecting your Japanese lucky cat. It depends on what you want your cat to represent. Do you want to find true love this year, or maybe keep the evil spirits at bay; there is a cat out there for everyone. Some of the main colour meanings are as follows:
White: Purity, happiness and positivity
Red: Success in love and relationships
Black: Wards off evil spirits
Green: Good health
Calico: This is the traditional colour combination and believed to be the luckiest
It would be fair to say that this isn’t any average cat; it’s a cat that can change your life. Lets face it everyone needs some luck and this little fellow has been providing just that for centuries.