Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Maneki-neko - the ancient "hello kitty"

When entering a Japanese restaurant or when walking out of it, have you ever seen a cat shaped sculpture with a golden coin? That is called a maneki neko, and it is said that these cat sculptures bring and welcome luck to the store. In Japanese "maneki" or "maneku" means to welcome and by having the gold coin (symbol of luck and fortune) it means "welcoming the fortune".

Another thing, have you recognized that there are some maneki neko with right paw raised and some with their left? Well if you haven't, look carefully next time because there is a reason why some kitties are raising the right paw or the left.

If the maneki neko is raising its right paw, it means "welcoming the fortune" and it is mainly used for stores or restaurants with business hours in the morning or the afternoon. When it is raising the left paw it means "welcoming the customers" and it is mainly placed in the stores or restaurants which circles their business around night time.

Maneki neko also have different meanings by color as well. These different colored maneki neko are not usually seen in front of stores or restaurants as they are used privately or for lucky charms.

Red maneki neko - get well soon or to wish for good health.
White maneki neko - welcome fortune and to purify one's property or oneself.
Black maneki neko - get rid of bad luck and to welcome good relationships.
Gold maneki neko - welcome wealth and fortune. Placing it towards a western position brings more luck.

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