Show me your Nekos, New York! *

1 Aug

By Jacqueline Pearce, author of the children’s book, Mystery of the Missing Luck (

Although Lucky Cats are originally from Japan, the world’s Chinatowns are a great place to find them. And what better place to look than in one of the largest and oldest Chinatowns in North America, New York City’s? Even before I got to Manhattan’s Chinatown neighbourhood I spied some gold Lucky Cats amid the New York souvenirs on a street vendor’s cart near Battery Park.

I love the old buildings, colours, and wrought iron fire escapes in New York’s Chinatown. By 1870, there were about 200 Chinese immigrants living in the neighbourhood around Mott Street, Park, Pell and Doyers Streets, east of the notorious Five Points district, which was New York’s most derelict and overcrowded slum area at the time. By 1900, there were 7,000 Chinese residents in the area, but fewer than 200 were women (thanks to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which made it difficult for the men who had come to North America to work on the railroads, etc. to then bring their wives and families over).

Today, there are 90,000-100,000 residents in Manhattan’s Chinatown, but growth has slowed due to high rents, and many Chinese immigrants are now moving to suburbs or the newer Chinatown neighbourhoods of Flushing and Brooklyn.

I don’t know when the first Lucky Cats found their way to New York, but walking along streets such as Hester, Pell and Canal today, they look back at you from many windows.

(Notice the “I ♥ China” hats in front of the shop below)

(Lucky Cat or Lucky Rabbit?)

(Ever wonder what the Lucky Cat sees as it looks out at you?)

There were no signs of any Lucky Cats/Maneki Nekos in the very good Japanese restaurant I ate dinner in on my last night in New York, but I don’t think I saw a single Chinese restaurant without one. Here’s the one that welcomed me on my first night in the city, performing its beckoning job well (luckily, the food was good too).

Goodbye, New York! I had a lot of fun searching out your Lucky Cats (not to mention a few other sights). Keep those paws beckoning (you too, Liberty), and I’ll be back.

*Thanks to Marlene Zach, one of Lucky Cat – Maneki Neko‘s fans on Facebook, for the phrase used in the title of this post


5 Responses to “Show me your Nekos, New York! *”

  1. Donald Hargrove August 2, 2011 at 3:39 am #

    I collect lucky cats, as do many of my friends on the Internet. My question is why are we collectors prone to be living in places where lucky cats are scarce? None of the collectors I know live in New York, San Francisco, or any such place. Is there a lucky cat saturation point at which you start collecting Smurfs or Transformers instead? I don’t know, but I live in Memphis & I have a wild hare to start grabbing up Elvis stuff. He doesn’t come with a movable arm but his hips go back and forth, beckoning for more chicks & jelly doughnuts … –Don in Memphis

    • Jacqueline Pearce August 2, 2011 at 9:25 am #

      Hmm… I’m picturing my office filled with rotating hip Elvises. Could be fun… Actually, I live near Vancouver, Canada, and there are several stores that sell Lucky Cats here. Most of the Lucky Cats in my collection come from Japan, though. If I stick with that limitation it keeps their numbers under control. If you get desperate, there’s always Hello Kitty. They seem to be everywhere now and are possibly inspired by Maneki Neko, the beckoning cat.

    • Lucky Cat - Maneki Neko August 26, 2011 at 4:39 pm #

      If anyone out there is interested, we could do a blog post listing online sources for purchasing Lucky Cats (let us know if you have any to recommend)… Or maybe it’s better to find them by chance?

  2. Rochelle Pearce August 2, 2011 at 7:25 am #

    Interesting. Thanks for sharing.


  1. Summer holiday brings new ideas (and new Lucky Cat photos) « wild ink - August 1, 2011

    […] with train travel in between. You can read about my search for Lucky Cats in New York City on the Lucky Cat – Maneki Neko blog. To give you a taste, here are a couple photos I like, which didn’t make it into the Lucky […]

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