Archive | May, 2011

Grinning Lucky Cats

17 May

These unusual Maneki Neko with laughing open mouths caught the eye of photographer James Kemlo in a craft shop in Atami on the Izu peninsula, Shizuoka prefecture, Japan.  The Lucky Cats hold fans, swords, umbrellas and fish, rather than the usual gold coin. Instead of sitting straight up in the standard beckoning cat pose, they lounge around, looking quite casual and joyous. Perhaps their wide, laughing mouths give them extra beckoning power –like they’re having a party you’re welcome to join. The three Lucky Cats in the store window display were each a different color – one blue, one white, and one red (a change from the more common white or black). Each one is hand-made individually by a local craftsperson from clay and kiln-fired. 

For more of James Kemlo’s photos of Japan, check out his Views of Japan blog. You can also find him on Twitter @JapanPhotos.

The Lucky Cat in Vancouver’s Chinatown

10 May

Pay a visit to Vancouver’s historic Chinatown and you are sure to see a few Lucky Cats — welcoming customers into businesses and also for sale.

Modelled after the original Japanese Maneki Neko (beckoning cat figure), the Chinese-style Lucky Cats tend to be colored gold –reflecting their goal of attracting money and good fortune.

They range in size and price (all the way up to super large $150 Lucky Cat).

If you look closely, you might even find a tiny Lucky Cat charm (there’s one for sale amid the trinkets below).

Of course, there are plenty of other interesting things to see and buy in Chinatown. Besides the restaurants, food, household items, etc, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden (below) is a tranquil oasis even on a rainy day.

If you’re searching for a Japanese-style Lucky Cat, you can find one right on the edge of Chinatown at Yokoyaya, a Japanese 100-yen-style store (associated with the Japanese Daiso chain) in the International Village (Tinseltown) Mall.

Everything in the store is $2 –even these Maneki Neko below (made in China for Daiso).

These popular and inexpensive Maneki Neko figures go fast, and each time I visit the store, the stock seems to be different, so you never know what you’ll find. The yellow, pink, and white beckoning cats and Darumas below, for example, were in the store one week and gone two weeks later.

Sometimes you can even find a beckoning Tanuki (a Japanese raccoon dog that, in folklore, is a shape-changing, sake-swilling trickster-like figure).

Sometimes you can find other Maneki Neko items like rubber stamps, tea cups, or this framed Maneki Neko:

So, if you feel the need of a little Maneki Neko luck in your life and can’t manage a trip to Japan any time soon, the nearest Chinatown may be the next best thing.

Leggy Lucky Cat

5 May

This is cross-legged Maneki Neko was spotted in the window of a Ramen noodle restaurant on Broadway near Granville St. in Vancouver, Canada. I didn’t go in to eat, but the Lucky Cat did attract my attention (caught my eye first as I was passing by on the bus). Definately, the first Maneki Neko I’ve seen with legs.

From time to time, this blog will feature random “Lucky Cat sightings” –photos of unusual, interesting, or unexpected beckoning cats. Drop us a note in the comment section, if you have one you’d like to share. The Lucky Cat doesn’t even have to be all that unusual. Just the fact that it caught your eye and perhaps made you smile, is enough. Plus, we want to know where you sighted it.

(At left: Ramen restaurant, a few shops east of Granville on north side of Broadway, Vancouver)