The Story of the Maneki-Neko

Today, I discovered what a Maneki-Neko was. For those who don’t know, it’s those cat figurines in asian stores who kinda wave at you through the storefront.

Well, discovering how they were called just made me remember a story about them that happened to me, so I’m gonna tell it here:

You have to know that these cat’s aren’t waving at you; they’re beckoning. It’s another thing I learned today: the beckoning gesture is different in japan, and it’s the gesture they’re doing when they wave their arm back and forth like that.

Of course, I didn’t know that when I was a little kid, so one day I asked my sister:

‘Sis, what are those cats here for? What are they doing?’

‘They’re here to fight burglars. If one enters, the cats go and start punching them with that arm of theirs.’

‘But… but how do they know if the person’s really a burglar? What if it’s someone else?’

They know.

Cue me, slack jawed in wonder and passably scared that they might mistake me fo a burglar anyways if I wasn’t polite enough. I can tell you that for many years, I treated those cats and any shop they were in with utmost respect.

Now to segue into this thread’s leading question: before you learned what they were for, how did you see those cats?


I actually heard a legend about it when I was really young, but I’m pretty sure there are different versions. Basically there was this woman who had a pet cat but because she was really poor she had to let the cat go because she couldn’t feed it. Then the cat came to her in a dream and told the woman to make a figure of it. Someone wanted to buy the figure and she kept making cat figures and selling them which got her a lot of money. So now people put the cats outside their stores as good luck for the business to make money.


I think I knew the word 招く from WaniKani and the gesture from anime before I really thought about what the cats were supposed to look like. So when I found out they were called 招き猫 my reaction was basically “nice”.


I first learned about them in Japanese class in high school. Our sensei told us at the time that the left paw is to attract customers, and the right paw is to attract money (if I remember right).

Of course, this was right around the time Pokemon came out in America, so for me it was the biggest shock to recognize that Meowth was a designed after it (with the gold coin affixed to its forehead rather than held in front of it).


I used to think it was just @Glias who’s mocking me because I’m only level 25 and she’s level 58.




My cat likes Manekineko. I personally wouldn’t recommend it.


Ooooooh your cat’s so cuuute! What’s their name?

-------- Original-Nachricht --------

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I read a graded reader in japanese about it. The story was about a japanese noble of some kind who got caught by a storm in the woods. Suddenly he saw a cat beckoning his party to come it’s way. The cat lead them to a temple where they could weather the storm. This noble was so greatful that he commisioned many statues of maneki neko to be built and displayed all around his house.

Or something along these lines :smiley:

This is also where I learned the meaning of the english verb to beckon!


Don’t mind me, just walkin’ on by with my walking stick here at big ol’ 23. :joy:

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Thank you so much! her name is Shoormie, also know as “The Ice Princess” and “The Fly-Eater” from her titles.
She’s nine years old, loves to lay on books and walk on board games, especially when a game is on.:slightly_smiling_face:

On dark, stormy nights, in the corner of your eye, do you sometimes catch a glimplse of her… beckoning?

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On dark stormy nights, I wake up with a shriek as the white Beast pounces on my chest; its sharp claws digging in my flesh.
I look up in horror only to be met by two gleaming eyes piercing my very soul.
Knowing it has got my full attention, the Beast rises and beckons me to the altar.
In a trance-like state, I rise up and proceed to make an offering of ground bones and dead meat, as I know it to be the only way out of this nightmare that has befallen upon me.
In other words, I give the cat its food.


I just always knew them as lucky cats and that the arm was to wave money in, but for many years I thought they were Chinese as I always saw them in Chinese takeaways and there was a stall in London Chinatown (before it got gentrified to hell and lost the cool bit with the indoor market) which sold them.

Here in Japan in my own shop I have 2- a fan I painted with one, and a little plastic solar powered waving one from the 100 yen shop. And then on my fridge I’ve got 2 magnet ones holding up the envelope with my savings on, a white one and a black one with opposite paws raised.


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Coming late to the party as usual, but this here is the story I’d heard, albeit with the addition that the noble was sheltering under a tree, which was struck by lighning immediately after he started following the cat.

In fact, the story seems to pop up all over the place in Japan - in Hikone (Shiga Prefecture), they claim that that the noble in question was Ii Naomasa, the father of Ii Naokatsu, who’d ordered the construction of Hikone Castle. It’s why the town’s mascot, Hiko-nyan, is a white cat wearing Ii Naomasa’s rather distinctive helmet.

The temple in question is supposedly Gotoku-ji, in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo, which is why it’s filled to the brim with beckoning cat statues.

Oh yeah, now that you mention it there was also the detail with lightning striking the tree. And also a picture of Gotokyu-ji filled with maneki-nekos!

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