Maneki-neko, literally means “beckoning” or "welcoming" cats in Japanese. Also known as the Lucky Cat.
It was born in the town of Edo (Tokyo) in the end of Edo-era (1603~1867) as the one of the good-luck articles peculiar to Japan equally to Dharuma. Maneki-neko has survived 5 eras since Edo, Meiji, Taisho, Showa all through to Heisei and is still giving fortune to the people .
It is really popular for Japanese as they are believed to bring good fortune, invite happiness and bring prosperity to your home or business. In Japan, Maneki-neko is usually placed at the entrance of houses and in store windows.
It has been told about Maneki-neko that the cat raising right hand is inviting money and the cat raising left hand is inviting customers, but has been reflected by the time changing, it is used beckoning luck to benefit on 'love', 'long life' and 'great hit on treasure lottery' etc. Especially into Heisei today, big pet boom made popularity of a cat lover and several kinds of Maneki-neko are produced.
The artists on the theme of a Maneki-neko have also been increasing in number. Therefore the Maneki-neko is said one of the strongest lucky God in Japan which is not over proud. Not only in Japan but also, we can see the Maneki-neko in South East Asian countries and in the other part of the world .
What does it mean when a Maneki-neko has its right paw or its left paw raised?
What do the different cat colors mean?
What about the coin the Lucky Cat holds, or the bib?
The meanings can vary from region to region within Japan, and some meanings have changed over time,
but here is a general summary:
Tri-color Cat: (modeled after the Japanese bob-tail breed, this is a popular & traditional color for lucky cats):
beckoning general good luck, wealth, prosperity
White Cat: purity, happiness
Black Cat: safety, wards off evil and stalkers
Golden Cat: wealth and prosperity
Red Cat: protection from evil & illness (especially illness in children)
Pink Cat: (a more modern color): love, relationships and romance
Green Cat: (also a modern color): education, studies
Right Paw raised: invites money and good fortune (usually for business)
Left Paw raised: invites customers or people
(Some suggest the right & left paws both invite business-related prosperity, but that the left paw is
for businesses of the night, such as bars, geisha houses & restaurants. Use of lucky cats in homes is more recent.)
Both Paws raised: invites protection of home or business
Coin: wealth and material abundance
Bib and Bell: may relate to protection, as well as wealth and material abundance