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.


3 Responses to “The Lucky Cat in Vancouver’s Chinatown”

  1. Raura June 25, 2012 at 10:27 am #

    Found this article when googling. 🙂 From the point of view of a person who can read both Chinese and Japanese, the color isn’t the way to tell the cats where they are from since there are many maneki neko colored gold in Japan! The difference between them is the kanji on the things they hold. Although Japanese Kanji are from ancient China, many Chinese products nowadays written in simplified Chinese. There’s some difference between them.

    Take you pics for example, on his right hand is a typical Chinese phrase of hoping people have good fortune; the middle is billion in simplified Chinese. I think the words on the left hands of both cats can be something to tell for people unfamiliar with these two languages… (not 100% tho) They look slightly different if you look closely enough. It’s not a print error. It’s the same word with different strokes in Kanji and simplified Chinese.

    • Lucky Cat - Maneki Neko June 25, 2012 at 11:24 am #

      Hi, Raura. Thanks for pointing out the differences in the writing and for going to the trouble to circle the characters on the photos! If you don’t mind, maybe I’ll put the info & marked photos into a blog post when I have time. Btw, I didn’t mean to imply that the color was a way of telling whether a lucky cat was from China or Japan, only that gold seems to be a popular color for Chinese lucky cats. Also, if you’re interested, I’m planning to eventually post something about the meanings associated with different colored Japanese Maneki Neko (already posted on our Facebook site:

      • Raura June 27, 2012 at 10:09 pm #

        Hi, Please do. And thanks for the great maneki neko facebook page! 😀

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