Tag Archives: Chinatown

Show me your Nekos, New York! *

1 Aug

By Jacqueline Pearce, author of the children’s book, Mystery of the Missing Luck (http://wildink.wordpress.com/)

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

Advertisements

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.