Fascinating History Behind The Popular ‘Waving Lucky Cat’

History Behind The Popular ‘Waving Lucky Cat’

A homeless person became a gold digger overnight? What will you name it, superstition or luck? Just like the Feng Shui Turtle, the Waving Lucky Cat is also believed to bring good luck and fortune to one’s life. There’s a whole fascinating history behind the popular ‘waving lucky cat’ that you probably didn’t know. What’s that, let’s find out in this post. 

Of course, hard work is the key to success but along with that luck plays an important role. For centuries the Japanese Maneki-Neko or what is popularly known as the beckoning cat or the waving lucky cat has been the symbol for luck and fortune. You’ll find these cat-dolls everywhere from salons to bars, shops to restaurants, nightclubs to car dashboards, and other places. What’s so fascinating about the history behind the popular ‘Waving Lucky Cat’? 

In this article you’ll come to know about the origin history behind the popular ‘Lucky Waving Cat’, the Maneki-Neko festival, the color variations of Waving Lucky Cat and what each color symbolizes, and much more. 

Let’s find out what’s the story behind this Japanese Maneki-Neko. To what extent is it true or it’s just a myth? Everything is mentioned clearly for your understanding. 

Fascinating History Behind The Popular ‘Waving Lucky Cat’- Origin

Fascinating History Behind The Popular ‘Waving Lucky Cat’- Origin
Source: Wit and Folly

The famous lucky cat, in Japanese it’s actually called Maneki-Neko cat. Maneki-Neko with its right paw up attracts wealth while the left paw up brings the business. You’ll see them decorating both homes and shops. 

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The Japanese began keeping the cats indoors in the 17th century originally to hunt mice. Gradually they became the much-loved pets they are today. 

Gotokuji Temple in Tokyo is a corner filled with hundreds of these dolls. The legend of the lucky cat started in this temple, so, people put the dolls here to wish for good fortune. 

So, why is the Lucky Cat supposed to bring Good Luck? 

It’s a story from about 400 years ago. A Lord samurai, Li Naotaka was passing the temple gate when a thunderstorm occurred. He took shelter under a tree near the temple when he saw a white cat that seemed to be beckoning him with its right paw. Intrigued, the Lord followed the cat into the temple. 

Just at that moment, a flash of lightning struck the exact same spot where the Lord was standing under the tree. From that day onwards, the story about how the cat saved his life spread all over and people began visiting that temple, hoping to be blessed with similar good luck. 

A train line passes by the temple. One of the trains painted in Lucky cat designs runs on a random schedule. So, it’s considered to be good luck if you catch it. 

The city of Seto in Aichi has always been a ceramic center and this is where most lucky cat dolls are made. This unusual Seto museum holds a collection of about 5000 lucky cat ornaments from all over Japan. Most are ceramic. But there are paper ones too. They feature many types of expressions and unique regional designs. It’s easy to see how deeply loved this lucky charm is by the Japanese. 

Maneki-Neko Festival

History Behind The Popular ‘Waving Lucky Cat’; Maneki-Neko Festival
Source: Tokyo Cheapo

Every year a lucky cat festival is held in September. It’s an occasion for the whole city to dress up like cats. There are cat songs and cat dances and everyone has a lot of fun. During the festival, you can take a workshop on doll making from a local ceramic artist who makes dolls for a living. 

There’s also an exhibition featuring selected dolls by artists from all over Japan. Every year the design seems more creative and original. 

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Masanari Suzuki, the Director of Seto City Tourism Association says that the lucky cat is an interesting subject for the artists. It inspires them to create unique designs, showcasing their talents in so many ways. Seto is proud of craft tradition and we live the challenge of imagining variations on this local thing. 

This Japanese tradition has got the imagination of people worldwide. Many people have started interpreting the concept in their own unique ways. Throughout the ages and around the globe these continue to summon good fortune. 

Color Variations of Lucky Waving Cat

History Behind The Popular ‘Waving Lucky Cat’; Color Variations of Lucky Waving Cat
Source: Lucky Cat- Maneki Neko

Originally these lucky cats or Maneki-Neko were white. Over the years, while its name got associated with Feng Shui, different color variations were born. Here is what keeping the cats in different colors means. 

White color: To get Good luck and overall Good Fortune. 

Black Color: To ward off Evil

Blue Color: For safety and security (traffic safety, etc.) 

Yellow or Gold Color: For wealth. 

Red Color: For good health. 

Pink Color: For those looking for luck in love and romance. 

*The meaning also changes depending upon which paw is raised by the lucky cat, such as the beckoning right paw attracts good fortune and money while a beckoning left paw invites customers and friendship. 

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Call it superstition or the century-old faith, The Waving Lucky Cats are believed to bring luck and good fortune for sure. This faith multiplies after every next person sharing their positive experience after bringing a waving lucky cat to their homes and lives. What’s your call in this? Do share your views with us in the comments section below. 

Frequently Asked Queries Regarding Waving Lucky Cat:

What does a lucky cat symbolize?

From ancient days, many stories have been told about Maneki Neko, AKA Japanese Lucky Cats or fortune cats. They are commonly used as mascots or talismans, bringing good luck to households, happiness, and success to individuals, and wealth and prosperity to businesses.

Who invented the waving lucky cat?



While many people attribute the adorable cat to Chinese business establishments, its origins can be traced back to Japan. Now, the talisman can be found everywhere in Japanese homes and shops, having just one or both paws raised.

Featured Image Credits: Daily Travel Pill

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