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BellaOnline's Japanese Culture Editor

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Maneki Neko - Japan's Lucky Cat

Guest Author - Joy Alari

In Japan good luck charms are a dime a dozen, they can be found almost anywhere but none are as popular as the maneki neko which is Japanís lucky cat, the maneki neko is also called the beckoning cat.

Maneki neko is a wide eyed figurine, it is usually made from porcelain or ceramic, the Maneki neko derives its names from the fact that one of its paws is raised, this is an imitation of the Japanese gesture for beckoning.
There are two types of Maneki neko and it is based, on which side the Maneki nekoís paw is raised but whichever paw is raised, would still signify goodluck though with different meanings.

Left Paw
When the left paw of the Maneki neko is raised, it signifies a welcome invitation for all to come in, this type of Maneki neko is very popular among Japanese Merchants, who are said to be rather superstitious especially in regards to sales, it is believed that when this type of Maneki neko is hung at the entrance of a shop, it beckons more customers into the shop.

Right Paw
If the right paw of the Maneki neko is raised, it means its inviting good fortune and wealth to come in, though its not as popular as the left foot Maneki neko but its becoming increasingly popular as well.

Colors Of Maneki neko
In choosing a Maneki neko, the type of raised paw is important but another vital feature is color. The calico colored Maneki neko is regarded as the luckiest, thus making it the most popular lucky cat.
Another popular color is white, which symbolizes purity as well positivity, the black colored Maneki neko comes third in popularity, especially amongst japanese women because it wards off evil, so if you want those stalkers at bay, try the black Maneki neko.
A golden colored Maneki neko signifies wealth and prosperity, pink Maneki neko is for love and romance. A green Maneki neko signifies good health, as well as success in an exam, which of cos makes it a rave amongst students.

There are some mixed reactions concerning this luky cat, especially from the western world who are of the belief that, the Maneki neko is not beckoning at all but merely waving its paw, this is only a bit of "cultural diversification" because the Japanese way of beckoning, is done by raising the hand with palm outwards followed by a raising and lowering of the fingers.

This is much the same way as when we wave, it was for this sole reason that a new Maneki neko was created, it is called the Dollar Cat and it features the same Japanese Maneki neko raising its paws from the back. The Dollar Cat would still bring the much needed good luck but you have to agree with me that, its still not as cute as the real thing.

By choosing the right color, as well as type of Maneki neko you want, you can achieve whatever fortune your heart desires, so if you are fed up with your regular goodluck charm, why not give the Maneki neko a try?
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Content copyright © 2014 by Joy Alari. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Joy Alari. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Ching Kin Min for details.

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