The Japanese Lucky Cat is more traditionally known as Maneki Neko which translated means the beckoning cat. According to ancient Japanese folklore’s, a good luck charm for good fortune in business and happiness.
Although there are many stories surrounding the true origin of the Lucky Cat, one of the most popular tales of all is the legend of the Gotokuji Temple. This story is about the local priest who looked after Gotokuji Temple in Tokyo who, despite his poverty, would share his food with his cat.
One day, a man who was said to have been a samurai took shelter under one of the temple’s nearby trees. The man saw the cat who was beckoning him to come into the temple. As he approached the cat, a bolt of lightning struck the tree he was under, causing it to crash down onto the ground where he would’ve been taking shelter had the cat not signalled him to move.
Grateful to the cat the samurai, who turned out to be a very wealthy man, rewarded the temple with funding. Years later when the cat died, a special burial was made in honour of what we know today as the lucky cat.
These ornamental cats are now commonly found placed outside houses and shops due to their symbollic nature. Ones with their left hand raised are said to invite customers to business, while ones with their right hand raised are said to invite prosperity.
The different colours of Japanese Lucky Cats are also significant to what they symbolise:
- White invites happiness
- Black protects against illness and bad omens
- Gold and yellow attracts good fortune
- Silver invites longevity
- Pink is for love
- Red is to bring good health
If a lucky cat is wearing a gold bell it will bring good fortune, whilst a red scarf draws attention and a cold coin promotes wealth.
Today many still visit the Gotokuji Temple where the original Maneki Neko is said to have lived, with hundreds of souvenir Japanese lucky cats put on display outside on racks by people searching for good fortune or in remembrance of their late pet cats.
The Japanese Shop has some fantastic Lucky Animals. Carry them with you to bring you luck with you wherever you go in the form of Lucky Owls, Lucky Cat and Birth Year Animal Key Holders and pocket size Japanese Crystal Animals to keep in your purse.