ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Beckoning Cat

Updated on January 19, 2015
VladimirCat profile image

Vladimir is a former champion ratter (retired). His hobbies are bushwalking, birdwatching and nature studies

High Paw for the Raised Paw

Have you ever wondered what those fat little cats with an upraised paw are doing? I must admit they intrigued me.

This is the Beckoning or Japanese Fortune cat, the Maneki Neko, a popular symbol of good luck and an invitation to prosperity and success in business.

You see her typically with a bib, collar and bell, with one paw raised and often holding a coin or fish in the other paw.

Maneki Neko, just like cats in the real world, come in all variations of colour. Popular shades are white, representing purity, black, to ward off evil, and red, pink or gold. Whatever the colour, the chubby little Neko is said to bring you good fortune in some shape or form.

Neko Legend for Children

The Beckoning Cat
The Beckoning Cat

Told gently for little ones. Love those pastel illustrations. Simply feline in elegance!


The Legend of the Goutokuji Temple

Who was the first Beckoning Cat?

Once upon a time, as all good stories start, a cat sat in the door of the Gotoku-ji temple, looking out at a thunderstorm. As all cats do, she began to groom herself, washing her face with an upraised paw.

Outside, under a tree, was a.Feudal Lord waiting for the storm to pass. The little cat raised her paw to him in the traditional Japanese beckoning gesture.

Cold and wet, the man quickly approached the cat and entered the temple. Moments later, the tree he had been using as shelter was struck by lightning and caught fire. The tree broke with a loud crash and flaming pieces of its shattered trunk fell precisely where the Feudal Lord had been standing. His life had been saved by the beckoning cat!

From then on, the Maneki Neko was considered to be an incarnation of the Goddess of Mercy.

The Beckoning Gesture

Cultural Differences in Body Language

It looks to me as if the Maneki Neko is waving at me, not beckoning to me. This is because body language is differently recognised by Europeans and the Japanese.

The Japanese beckon by holding up the hand, palm out, and repeatedly folding the fingers down and back up, while Europeans hold up their hand backwards and move the wrist to call someone over.

These days Maneki Neko are made specifically for Western markets, and will have the cat's paw facing backwards in a beckoning gesture more familiar to Westerners.

Commerce can take care of cultural differences, and the little Neko is about prosperity after all.

Left or Right?
Left or Right?

Left Paw or Right Paw? - Does the paw matter?

Generally speaking, it's thought that the left paw beckons for people (customers) while the right attracts money or good fortune.

It's been suggested that a left paw raised is best for drinking establishments, the right paw for other stores. Those who hold their liquor well are called hidari-kiki in Japan, meaning "left-handed". Does that sound like a connection?

Giant Neko, Nagoya, Japan
Giant Neko, Nagoya, Japan

Many Japanese business people wouldn't dream of having a restaurant, tavern, or shop without a Beckoning Cat.

Get your own collectible lucky cat

Maneki Neko Money Lucky Cat Chinese Japanese Statue
Maneki Neko Money Lucky Cat Chinese Japanese Statue

A perfect little lucky cat - and how can you resist those gorgeous eyes?


The Cat's Collar

Not to protect Wildlife

If you look at a Neko you'll see some sort of decoration around the neck. This can be a bandana or a scarf but the most common attire is a collar, bell and decorative bib.

Red collars made from a red flower, the hichirimen, were once popular for real cats of wealthy households, while small bells were attached for decoration and to keep track of the cat's whereabouts. The Neko follows the fashion of long ago.

Why not try it yourself?

Try a Beckoning Cat for your office or in your house .

At the front door of your office, a Neko is said to attract new patrons. At home, put your Neko anywhere to attract good luck. Who knows, it might work!

More on the Beckoning Cat

© 2009 Vladimir

Want to raise YOUR paw?

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      When I was managing Community SkillShare in Melb we had a group of visiting Japanese researchers learning from our jobsearch and placement services, and they gave me one of these beckoning cat figures as a thank you and told me it was for good fortune. I still have it - cute as ever.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      visiting the Asakusa temple in Tokyo a few years ago, we passed a stall with shelves and shelves of all sizes and colors of maneki neko. There were three or four shelves 2-3 meters long with mechanical, waving ones, all out of time with each other. Quite a sight and loads of luck!

    • jptanabe profile image

      Jennifer P Tanabe 

      8 years ago from Red Hook, NY

      Oh yes, love the maneki neko! We bought a bunch of miniature ones when we visited Japan, and gave them all away as gifts to friends and family. Hope they brought them good fortune!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)