21 century Japan is very developing with the latest advanced technologies. Most of the population is educated with modern science and technology. However, Japanese people always respect traditions and mythological superstitions. Today I am going to explain very interesting facts about the signature of the Japanese Lucky cat ( Maneki Neko).
If you translate these Japanese words, you will get (Maneki= Beckoning) and ( Neko= cat). This adorable beckoning kitty is believed to bring good luck and fortune. It is not only famous in the original country of Japan but also in China and some southeast Asian countries. The original Maneki Neko is a calico cat that has three coloration but people created different colors and different forms. Nowadays you can find not only calico form but also black, golden, printed flowers and adorable Chibi anime kitty style. we adore the beckoning lucky kitty so we should know the origin of how Maneki Neko legend began. There are 3 different stories about this fortune cat.
Famous legends of Maneki Neko
1. An old woman and her cat
In 18 century Tokyo, an old woman named Usugumo loves the cat so much so she had one too. One night the old lady went to the bathroom. Her blurry eyes could not see a poisonous snake curling inside. Her beloved calico kitty knew the danger. Therefore, she was pulling her owner’s dress with nails to warm. The landlord saw the struggle so he thought the cat is attacking the poor old woman. The landlord killed the cat before regretfully realized that she was just trying to save her old mama from the snake. Poor old Usugumo was so upset and heartbroken for losing a loyal pet. The regretful landlord made the little wooden statue of the cat to honor her loyalty and bravery. From this story, people started to believe that keeping the cat carved image in the home is for protection away from dangers.
2. The shopkeeper and the guest cat
Another alternate version of Maneki Neko is also very interesting. Once upon a time in ancient Japan. There was a shopkeeper who sank in poorness and bad luck. One day a stray calico cat came into his shop. That furry little guest was sitting in front of the shop and beckoning with a little paw. The poor shopkeeper fed well the guest kitty daily because he loves the cat. Soon his business started to rise up. People of his area thought this beckoning calico is bringing good fortune. So they all started to make images of that kitty and put it in front of their shop.
3. Legend of Gotuku-Ji Temple
The Lord Naotaka Li of Hikone District passed through the Gotuku-Ji Temple where a priest and his cat lived. Suddenly the Lord was caught by heavy rain near the temple so he took shelter under the tree in front of the Temple. He saw the priest’s cat was beckoning to him. With curiosity on the unusual behavior of the cat, the Lord walked to her. As soon as the lord stepped inside the temple courtyard, the tree that he took shelter was hit by lightning. For saving his life, the Lord built a specific shrine for the priest’s cat.
Maneki Neko color meanings
Japan has lots of Maneki Neko shop. You can find different colors and they are holding different things. Well, each color and thing it holding have a specific meaning.
1. Pink is for love between couples and family
2. Black is for the protection of negative energy, illness, and bad spirits.
3. Silver and white is for purity, longevity, and happiness
4. Gold and yellow are believed to attract wealth, good fortune
5. The red color image is for strong good health
There are different specific meanings of holding items too.
1. Coin- Ancient lucky symbol
2. Small hammer- This is called a magic money mallet which is believed to attract money and richness.
3. Fish- It represents abundance.
4. Gems or Crystal ball- It is also a symbol of wealth and also the symbol for wisdom.
I think you enjoyed the interesting fun facts about the famous Maneki Neko the beckoning cat. It is not just about wealth and luck. It is also too cute to keep at home. Stay tuned, there are be more upcoming cat-related amazing legends and folklore to show.