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Why Everyone Needs a Maneki Neko (a What?!)

maneki neko

When one of my Facebook pals asked if I ever made a Maneki Neko, my first response was “A what?!”

Since my fear of appearing stupid is nearly as great as my fear of being eaten by a shark, my second response was to hop on Google to find out what the heck he was talking about.

The mystery was solved quite rapidly. Even if we aren’t familiar with the official name of the Maneki Neko, many of us are familiar with the item itself. A Maneki Neko is the cute-as-all-get-out Fortune Cat, which some may refer to as the Smiling Wavy Cat Thing You See Next to Asian Restaurant Cash Registers.

Armed with the knowledge that these cutesy kitties are thought to bring good fortune and luck, I got my first one years ago from one of those dollar stores where everything costs at least $10. I don’t recall the exact price of the cat, but I knew I’d make it back in a jiffy when his good fortune vibes went into action.

While he graced my living room with his battery-operated waving paw for several days, the click-clack noise of the waving paw quickly drove me nuts. He’s been in the backyard ever since, now partially hidden by an overgrown sage bush but still streaming good fortune my way.

Whether it’s in their backyard, front yard or danging above their bed, everyone needs a Maneki Neko. Here’s why.

For Good Fortune

We could all use a dose of good fortune, and one of the most straightforward ways to secure it is to get yourself Maneki Neko. Other nicknames for this captivating critter are the Money Cat, the Welcoming Cat and the Lucky Cat, which means all that jazz can start coming your way.

You can also customize the type of good fortune you’d like to receive, based on the different colors, accessories and waving hand of your Maneki Neko.

Different colors are associated with different benefits:

  • White: Positive future and happiness
  • Red: Love and relationship success
  • Gold: Prosperity and wealth
  • Green: Good health
  • Black: Protection from evil spirits

Different accessories can likewise indicate different things.

A waving left arm is meant beckon customers, while a waving right arm beckons money and fortune. Get a Fortune Cat with both paws raised and you may get so much good luck your head is likely to explode.

My pal’s only request for his custom Maneki Neko is that its main color be white. I then customized the rest with:

  • A left waving hand, since that’s the way I’ve seen most Maneki Neko and I’m a big fan of left hands (as well as left-handed folks). The left to me symbolizes boundless creativity and potential.
  • Money-magnet accessories on the collar that include coins for wealth and flowers for growth and abundance.
  • A belly button, just because belly buttons are fun.

White was requested, while red, gold and black are the colors that called to me for the accents. My pal’s personal Maneki Neko is now equipped to bring on the prosperity and love while warding off the evil. Sounds good to me.

maneki neko

For Sharing a Good Story 

Legends rock, and the Maneki Neko has several that explain how the Fortune Cat came to be. One of the most interesting involves a geisha who absolutely adored her pet cat. Her cat followed her around, made sweet purring noises, and actually tugged at her kimono when it wanted attention.

While the kimono-tugging would be cute for some, the owner of the brothel took the tugging as a sign that the cat was possessed. So he grabbed a sword and sliced off the kitty’s head.

The cat’s head went flying off into the distance – landing on a snake that was about to strike and kill the geisha. The catapulting cat head, of course, killed the snake and the geisha was saved. Since she was still distressed about the loss of her beloved cat, one of her customers made her statue of the cat to cheer her up.

The Maneki Neko was born.

Pass along this legend and you get multiple layers of benefits. You get the benefit of sharpening your storytelling skills. The benefit of picking up a bedtime tale you can tell to your kids. And the benefit of keeping such fantastic folklore alive.

For Making a Quick Buck 

While the Maneki Neko is designed to bring good fortune and money, the windfall may not happen overnight. In the meantime, you can easily make a quick buck from all your family members and friends.

Simply point at your Fortune Cat and say:

“I’ll bet you $5 you can’t tell me the official name of this wavy cat thing.”

Boom. You’re now $5 richer.

Keep it up long enough and you’ll soon be able to afford anything and everything from those dollar stores that charge at least $10 or more per item.

Enjoy!

Read more cool stuff about the Maneki Neko on the Catster website.

Get a personalized Fortune Cat you can gleefully gaze at daily at the rynski etsy shop.

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