This blog was created to share a fascination with Maneki Neko, the lucky beckoning cat.

Maneki Neko means “beckoning cat” in Japanese. Also known as the Lucky Cat, this friendly-looking cat statue with one raised paw can often be found welcoming good luck, customers and prosperity into Japanese and Chinese restaurants and stores. The Maneki Neko originated in Japan in the 17th century. There are several folk tales about the first Maneki Neko, many centering around a poor temple or business whose fortunes were turned around by a cat who brought good luck. The beckoning cat statue eventually made its way from Japan to China and then to other countries as well.

52 Responses to “About”

  1. Jean-Pierre Antonio April 7, 2011 at 4:05 am #

    I think the Maneki Neko is right up there with the Easter Bunny as one of my favourite animal deities. However, while the Easter Bunny only gives bounty in Spring, on Easter day, the Maneki Neko keeps on giving all year long! You can’t beat that.

    Thanks for putting this up. I look forward to reading other comments and learning more about the maneki neko. For example, I noticed that they come in many different colours. I have even seen pink maneki neko! Do the different colours have different meanings, or is it just purely decorative? Maybe somebody can enlighten me.

    As I look deep into the big black eyes of the maneki neko I find myself pulled into a parallel world of good fortune. With the cats help I feel like today is going to be a lucky day!

    Jean-Pierre Antonio

  2. Lucky Cat - Maneki Neko April 7, 2011 at 12:45 pm #

    Pink is one of the new colors that is supposed to beckon love. A post about the significance of different Maneki Colors is a good idea (we’ll put it on our to-do list).

  3. Soren Henrich April 7, 2011 at 8:06 pm #

    Enjoy real live Maneki Nekoes raising their paws!

    • Lucky Cat - Maneki Neko April 8, 2011 at 12:35 pm #

      Thanks for the link, Soren. Funny!

  4. Donald Hargrove December 11, 2011 at 9:52 am #

    What a great web! And I thought I’d found them all. But Maneki Neko moves faster than I can. I’ll just have to try harder to keep up.

    In the meantime, perhaps you or one of your readers can answer a question for me: Occasionally I’m asked to date someone’s MN and that’s tough. So I’m trying to get a handle on same. On one of your days you mention seeing a manekineko with plastic whiskers. (This isn’t a problem at my house as my genetic cats quickly chew them off.) But as to those Nekos that either had or still have those whiskers — I’d like find out when makers started using them.

    I notice that I usually see them on large Tokonames & suspect that they are a replacement for paying someone to handpaint a nice set of fancy whiskers. If we assume that the current Tokoname design began after ww2 I wonder how much later they began using these plastic whiskers?

    I have seen so-called “vintage” Nekos with them and I suspect that they indicate just the opposite, proving that the kitty was made less than 20 yrs ago. Also I can’t help wondering if this decoration started out as a Chinese or Taiwanese gimmick? Please, if anyone knows about this, I’d love to hear what they have to say … –Thanks, Donald in Memphis.

    • Maneki Neko December 11, 2011 at 8:43 pm #

      Glad you found us! I don’t know the answer to your question, but the Lucky Cats I’ve seen with plastic (or nylon?) whiskers were mostly in Chinese restaurants/shops, so, like you, I assumed they were a modern Chinese development (also plastic and nylon not used widely until after WWII). If I find out more, I’ll let you know.

  5. maggie September 14, 2012 at 7:05 am #

    I thought you might like to see my “Lucky Cat Paper Doll” book.
    Here’s the link- http://www.amazon.com/Lucky-Cats-Paper-Dolls-Maneki/dp/0486486826

    • Lucky Cat - Maneki Neko September 14, 2012 at 5:18 pm #

      Wow! Thanks, I’ll post the link on our Facebook site too (and will have to order one!)

  6. Alex September 27, 2012 at 2:49 pm #

    I know this is a long shot, but you wouldn’t happen to know where I could find the maneki neko figurines shown on the cover of Trophy Scars’ Alphabet. Alphabets., would you? https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=354629004587287&set=a.354628877920633.99416.354627977920723&type=1&theater

    • Lucky Cat - Maneki Neko September 27, 2012 at 3:54 pm #

      They look pretty similar to inexpensive ones I’ve seen in Japanese dollar stores in North America (the cats on the album look like they might have masks over their eyes –either an illusion, or someone painted them on). I’ve also seen similar gold and silver Lucky Cats in Chinatown stores that sell gifts and home decorations. You could also try Ebay. If I come across anything more specific, I’ll let you know here.

      • Alex September 27, 2012 at 4:16 pm #

        Many thanks! Follow up question: do you know what the coin says and which way is the correct way it should face (seems some are mirrored)?

  7. Lucky Cat - Maneki Neko September 27, 2012 at 4:39 pm #

    I’m actually overdue for a post about what the coin says, what the colors mean, etc. I’ll try to get to that within the next week. In the meantime, here’s a summary re. the paws:

    Right paw raised: invites money and good fortune (usually to businesses)
    Left paw raised: invites customers or people

    • Donald Hargrove October 1, 2012 at 3:07 pm #

      Greetings, LC!

      I’ve just discovered that your notes are not spam. (Well, actually, one was. But he’s gone now.) Umm … Is it ok if I chime in here?

      Hi, Alex! Most of the times when you see a Manekineko holding a big coin like a shield he’s a post wwII Tokoname region style lucky kitteh. The Japanese fell on hard times after the war so the folks that make & sell Lucky Cats came up with a new gimmick that was so good that it stuck. Let Maneki Neko beckon for money & show that money right on the front. Genius! The coin you’re referring to is a long-out-of-use gold coin called a Koban. The number on it is often thought to be a million, but it’s actually 10 million, as they use “commas” in a different place than we do.

      You sometimes will see a coin with a “Fuku” (happiness) symbol — I can always remember it because of the little window pane image in its lower right hand corner. You will find the Fuku symbol all over the place. It appears to be the most used of all the Japanese good-luck characters. Note that both the Koban coin & the Fuku medallion are normally facing forward, altho pretty much anything goes nowadays in decorating Lucky Cats. Even including US dollar signs and other monetary units on the coin. It’s all marketing. (I have a MN with “Falstaff” on his coin, lol!)

      I’m not familiar with the “mirror” image coin that you describe. I’d think it more likely that the other image(s) is meant to represent another coin or to show a bunch of coins. I have seen an upside-down Koban and also an upside-down Fuku medallion; but I think the non-Japanese/non-Chinese producers just screwed up.

      HI, again, LC! Hope I’m not speaking out of turn. But while I’m at it I do want to mention that my best-beloved friend Ukonzukai is going to have her Maneki Neko Museum open this next weekend in Cincinnati & the CFA’s (mine) will be open in Alliance, Ohio. She can be contacted atyahoodotcom. (Some folks are uptight about web-addresses,)

      –Good Luck! Don in Memphis

      • Lucky Cat - Maneki Neko October 1, 2012 at 3:56 pm #

        Thanks very much for your response, Don! (you are welcome to chime in any time!)
        I assumed that what Alex meant by “mirror image” is that some of Lucky Cats on the album cover have the right paw raised and some have the left.

  8. Lucky Cat - Maneki Neko October 1, 2012 at 5:12 pm #

    New post about the meanings of the colors, etc. is up: https://luckymanekineko.wordpress.com/2012/10/01/left-paw-or-right-black-white-or-red-decoding-the-lucky-cat/

  9. Shelli November 4, 2012 at 1:36 pm #

    I have a very unusual Maneki Neko bank that I found at an antique store in Texas. It is 18 1/2 inches high, heavy ceramic, pearlized paint, glitter on green bib and red scroll, and has both painted whiskers and plastic whiskers. The owner did not know much about it, and I have looked everywhere and not seen one like it at all. I would love to know any information that anyone might have for me, and I would be happy to send pictures as well. Thank you – Shelli in Texas

    • Lucky Cat - Maneki Neko November 4, 2012 at 4:02 pm #

      Send a photo if you like (or post it on our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/LuckyCat.ManekiNeko). I’m curious to see it. All I can say from your description is that plastic and nylon weren’t used much before WW II, so it must have been made some time after that. Also, green bibs seem pretty common on Tokoname-style lucky cats like the one in my profile picture (the round-faced, rounded-body cats first made in the Tokoname region of Japan about 1950 and later produced elsewhere as well).

  10. Shelli November 4, 2012 at 4:30 pm #

    Thank you for your reply! I put a picture of it on your Facebook Page for you to see – let me know your thoughts. Thank you so much for your help!

  11. Tuyet Ruoff November 30, 2012 at 11:17 pm #

    can you buy things from your store. My name is Tuyet Ruoff. I LOOKING FOR HELLO KITTY LUCKY CAT. I would love to get one in gold if you have one

    • Lucky Cat - Maneki Neko December 1, 2012 at 12:39 am #

      We share info about lucky cats and are not a store. There are quite a few sites online that sell lucky cats. Here’s an example of one that came up when I did a Google search: http://www.pacificeastwest.com/lucatmane1.html. You can also find many lucky cats on ebay by searching for “lucky cat” and/or “maneki neko.” Good luck!

    • Donald Hargrove December 2, 2013 at 4:18 pm #

      Hello Kitty Lucky Cats show up very frequently on eBay. They come in various colors, materials, sizes, & prices. Check it out.

  12. Chi Wei July 13, 2013 at 9:35 pm #


    I was wondering if you knew where I could find this exact lucky cat in porceline but with a mechanical arm??

    Thank you 🙂

    • Lucky Cat - Maneki Neko July 16, 2013 at 11:21 pm #

      I haven’t seen any porcelain or ceramic lucky cats with mechanical arms, but you might be able to find one made from plastic that is a similar design. For example, here’s a white one on Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Maneki-Lucky-fortune-Waving-White/dp/B003U14Z2K

      • Donald July 17, 2013 at 8:13 am #

        Hi! I’ve also looked at a lot of nekos & I’ve never seen a moving one made of ceramic or porcelain. Those might be considered too heavy or fragile. But perhaps in Japan. If you have a Japanese friend, ask them to take a look at Yahoo Japan. There’s potential there for a very neat fountain to go out in the garden. –Don

  13. JeffL November 29, 2013 at 5:52 pm #

    Hello, I was wondering if you can share what a “traditional” or “authentic” maneki neko looks like. I’ve seen many different types of them and I’m just not sure. Are they also mechanically waving? or is it ceramic? -a suggestion on where to buy an authentic/traditional one would be nice too 🙂

    Love this blog! Thanks!

    • Lucky Cat - Maneki Neko November 30, 2013 at 3:13 pm #

      Most maneki neko made in Japan are considered authentic. The white ceramic lucky cat pictured on this post is a very traditional and popular style called Tokoname (named after the region in Japan that originally produced this style). It is characterized by a round face and roundish body, usually wearing a collar, bell, and bib, and holding a gold coin (older versions may be simpler). It comes in different colors, which have different meanings (see our post on decoding the lucky cat: http://bit.ly/19K1eqS). The classic color is white with orange/brown spots and a short tail (based on the Japanese Bob Tail cat breed). Traditionally, black was also a popular color in some regions of Japan. You can find these maneki neko on Amazon and Ebay (try typing “maneki neko” and “Tokoname” in the search). However, if a different style is more appealing to you, go with the one you like the best. 🙂

      • JeffL December 1, 2013 at 12:32 pm #

        Thank you!! You’re the best!

    • Donald Hargrove December 2, 2013 at 4:49 pm #

      In this case “Traditional” & “Authentic” aren’t necessarily the same thing. Traditional would tend to imply either age or where-made (in Japan); all Lucky Cats are authentic except for the knockoffs: like “Hello Kitty” & “Meowth”. The “Maneki Neko” name implies lucky cats from Japan since Maneki Neko is Japanese for “Welcomer Cat”. Also they originated there.

      The Tokoname style originated after WWII in the region of that name. They are the most popular style of Maneki Neko. They are significant for two reasons: They made the cat more baby-like & they added the coin to signify wealth.

      Japan was going thru hard-times, so someone thought MN’s should attract money in addition to other lucky things. This went over big-time & is still an identifier of a Tokoname tho some do not have coins. This is the way of the Japanese.

      Note: Any electrical or electric lucky cat is authentic, but certainly not traditional — whether made in Japan, China, Hong Kong, Hawaii, or the US.

      • Lucky Cat - Maneki Neko December 3, 2013 at 12:28 am #

        Thanks, Donald! You’ve added lots of interesting info (which I hope is not too overwhelming for readers new to Maneki Neko).

        Choosing a beckoning cat statue is, of course, up to personal taste, but for someone new to Maneki Neko, the Tokoname style is a good place to start. As Maneki Neko scholar Alan Scott Pate states, “Today, Tokoname-style maneki neko are perhaps the most iconic and immediately recognizable version of the Japanese beckoning cat.”

        The first Maneki Neko that caught my eye several years ago was a white Tokoname-style cat in a Chinese restaurant. Learning that the beckoning cat actually originated in Japan (as I was about to head out on my first trip to Japan) got me interested in finding out more of its story.

  14. Donald Hargrove December 14, 2013 at 8:27 am #

    Hi! Aha! You’ve read Pate! Certainly the best reference that I’ve found. Did you attend the opening of the Mingei Museums’ exhibit? A group of us manekinekocollectors were there: Michelle Robertson, Glenna Moore, Diane Flint, Carol Baier, & myself.

    Anyway, this is a reply to the Dec 1-3 discussion regarding “traditional” vs “authentic”.

    I am often interested in the edges of things where they overlap or become different — also known as the “event horizon”. Because Maneki Nekos / Lucky Cats come in so many forms I tried to work out the degree of manekinekoness in a given figurine.

    I had a very mixed collection and there were some kitties in my collection that waved their arms but clearly were not MNs. So … how many other trappings (ex: bell on red string, kanji, japan stamp, coin, style) are necessary to define a MN. Tokoname = easy, Winnie the Pooh in a MN suit = difficult. I tried to write a paper on this — If anyone’s interested, I’ll try to find it.

    • Lucky Cat - Maneki Neko December 14, 2013 at 12:27 pm #

      Hi Donald. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to attend the Mingei Museum exhibit (though I really wanted to!). I ordered the book via email, and refer to it quite a lot.

      Yes, the edges of things/transitions are intriguing. For example, the Tokoname style is post-WW II, as you mentioned earlier, but I have a Maneki Neko that is supposed to be Taisho period (roughly 1920s), but it looks very much like a Tokoname cat (minus the bib and coin). There must be some overlap in styles, but I suspect I’m missing some of the nuances that differentiate them. Also, the pop culture mix-ups (like Winnie the Pooh in a Maneki Neko costume) can be fun and sometimes baffling.

      If you’d be interested in sharing your paper, would you be able to email it to me? I could include all or part of it on a blog post here and link back to your website.

  15. si January 23, 2014 at 9:43 am #

    where the heck can i buy a huge lucky cat in the uk?

    • Lucky Cat - Maneki Neko January 23, 2014 at 11:15 am #

      I’m not sure about brick & mortar stores in the UK, but you could try Amazon or Ebay

    • Jon September 11, 2017 at 5:09 am #

      Si, did you find a huge lucky cat by any chance?

  16. Tanya Tovar February 19, 2014 at 5:04 pm #

    Why the lucky cat figure dont have eyes? Do I have to draw the eyes? Please someone help me?

    • Lucky Cat - Maneki Neko February 19, 2014 at 9:34 pm #

      Actually, most Lucky Cats do have eyes.(refer to the header photo on our home page). If a Lucky Cat does not have eyes it is probably just an artistic or stylistic choice. Daruma dolls are Japanese figures that do not have eyes (the eyes are blank). If someone gives you a Daruma doll, you can fill in one eye yourself and set a goal. The blank eye reminds you to keep working to achieve your goal. When your goal is met, you fill in the remaining eye. I haven’t seen any Daruma dolls that look like Lucky Cats/Beckoning Cats, but they are both symbols of good luck and sometimes appear together. More on Daruma dolls here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daruma_doll

      If you have a Lucky Cat with no eyes, you can assume the eyes are closed, or you could draw or paint them in if you don’t like them the way they are. Hope this helps.

  17. Jon September 11, 2017 at 1:03 am #

    Can any help locate an 18″ ceramic golden lucky cat please?

    I have accidentally broken my wife’s favorite lucky cat. It was huge, 18″ golden ceramic. WE have had it for years and I can not seem to find anywhere for a replacement?

    She is not happy with me.

    • Lucky Cat - Maneki Neko September 11, 2017 at 4:27 am #

      Have you checked Amazon and Ebay? I’m away for a week, but will check some more sites once I’m back at my computer.

      • Jon September 11, 2017 at 5:08 am #

        I have been searching but nothing over 13″ in porcelain/ceramic. Seen some 18″ but plastic and from US so mental delivery charges. Any help appreciated.

        I will be gluing the old back together as best as I can but I fear it is not going to look the best.

    • Lucky Cat - Maneki Neko September 20, 2017 at 9:23 am #

      I don’t know where you’re located, but if there is a Chinatown near you, or a store that specialises in Chinese giftware, you might find a tall gold lucky cat there (although the beckoning cat is originally from Japan, it has become popular in China, and the gold ones are often made in China)

      • Jon September 21, 2017 at 12:34 am #

        Many thanks, managed to track one down from China and had him delivered. I have repaired the broken one. Still looks handsome if not a little battered. Lost quite a few of its lives in that accident!

    • Lucky Cat - Maneki Neko September 21, 2017 at 9:47 am #

      Glad to know things worked out. Also, there is a tradition in Japan of mending tea bowls, so that the mended cracks add to the bowls’ wabi sabi beauty, so you could always say that was the intent with the mended cat 😉

  18. Gary March 21, 2019 at 8:44 pm #

    What happens if you break the left raised arm on the gold cat accidently and how do you correct it?

    • Lucky Cat - Maneki Neko March 24, 2019 at 10:23 am #

      I haven’t come across any beliefs about what happens when an arm breaks, or any specific recommendations for fixing. If your maneki neko is ceramic, perhaps the arm can be glued back on. If the arm is one that moves, you might try Googling how to repair a movable lucky cat arm. There are some videos that show what the mechanism looks like inside.

  19. Adam Vestergaard June 7, 2019 at 6:16 am #

    Hi I’m wondering if you can own several different colours? For example I would like a pink one for love, and one (I’m not sure which colour) for a good future and a good career and a good/happy life. But is it taboo to own several ones?

    • Donald L Hargrove June 7, 2019 at 3:21 pm #

      Hi! Yes, maneki nekos not only come in different but different designs and words attached to them. Many times they will bear a gold coin, which means money or riches. The idea of the money cat came about when Japan’s economy was wiped by the war and mn-makers discovered that they sold better than the plain ones. Along with the coin, they started using the other paw also for wealth. Of course the gold manekis are also for wealth or riches. Note: All of this varies over time. My opinion is that pink is for love. Sometimes they’ll even bear a heart, just in case you don’t get it. (I assume that the heart symbol is not Japanese, nor the shamrock, nor the American dollar symbol, lol.)

    • Donald L Hargrove June 7, 2019 at 3:31 pm #

      Hi, Adam! No taboos apply. The more, the better. As a matter of fact collecting different colors can be fun and relatively inexpensive. I have a solid purple Tokoname that I’m very proud of. But my solid black vintage Toko is my favorite. Good luck! –Don

      • Lucky Cat - Maneki Neko June 7, 2019 at 5:04 pm #

        Hi Adam, and thanks for replying Donald! I agree, there don’t seem to be any taboos around how many cats or how many colours a person or business can display. I have several colours in my collection (though most of mine are the traditional white, and I also have a favourite vintage black Tokonome neko)


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