Have You Seen the Beckoning Cat?
People might have seen figurines of a cat with an upraised paw in East Asian-owned restaurants and other businesses. If so, they should know that the cat is a maneki neko, which is Japanese for “beckoning cat.” The use of such figurines started out in Japan. However, they have since spread to other cultures, with the result that a wide range of them are used in a wide range of ways. Something that sometimes include feng shui symbols and feng protection symbols for those who are feeling syncretistic.
What Is the Story Behind the Beckoning Cat?
There are a number of explanations for how the maneki neko came into existence. For instance, some people have pointed out its resemblance to a cat in the process of washing their face. As such, it is possible that the maneki neko is derived from the Japanese belief that a cat washing their face means that a visitor will come soon. However, most people prefer the stories that have sprung up to explain the origin of such figurines.
One story says that a poor monk living at a small temple once took in a cat. One day, a passing daimyo took shelter from a storm beneath a nearby tree. However, he soon headed over to the temple to investigate the cat, which was making beckoning motions at him. Thanks to that, the daimyo survived when a thunderbolt destroyed the tree that he had been sheltering beneath just a moment earlier, thus convincing him to serve as the patron of the temple in thanksgiving. Supposedly, the first maneki neko was created for the purpose of commemorating the meritorious cat.
Another story says that a poor business owner took in a stray cat. Sometimes, the business is a shop. Other times, the business is an inn, a tavern, or some other establishment. Whatever the case, the stray cat repaid kindness with kindness by sitting in front of the business to beckon in customers. By doing so, they helped the business to thrive, thus becoming a symbol of good fortune for businesses every since.
Nowadays, the maneki neko is used for more purposes than ever before. Such figurines are still very popular with business owners for obvious reasons. However, there are now everything from red maneki neko for good health to pink maneki neko for good romantic prospects. Those who are curious should check out our production selection, which contains not just maneki neko but also feng shui symbols, feng shui protection symbols, and a wide range of other products of interest.