Manekineko【beckoning cat】

Have you ever heard of an ornament called a “beckoning cat”?

In English, “Neko” means “cat” and “Maneku” means “beckon.

There are many stories about the beginnings of beckoning cats,

but it is said that they began to be made in the Edo period.

Nowadays in Japan, you can see beckoning cats in food and souvenir stores.

What is the meaning of a beckoning cat?

Meaning of hand raising

It is said that the hand held up by a beckoning cat has the following meaning.

  • The cat with its right hand raised in the air ⇒ invites money (money luck)
  • A cat with its left hand raised ⇒ Inviting people (customers)

It is also said that the higher the height of the hand, the farther away happiness will be.

Meaning of Color

It is said that the color of the beckoning cat also has a meaning.

  • White ⇒ Invite happiness, work well
  • Black ⇒ No bad luck, family safety
  • Red ⇒ No sickness

These days, there are more colors and more meanings.

  • Gold, yellow ⇒ Invites money
  • Pink ⇒ Success in love
  • Blue ⇒ Passing exams, getting a job, traffic safety
  • Green ⇒ Family safety and better performance
  • Purple ⇒ Live a long and healthy life

Famous for beckoning cat Shrine


In Asakusa, Tokyo, there is a shrine that is said to be the origin of beckoning cats.

This shrine is popular as a “En-musubi (matchmaking)” shrine, meaning that it will help you fall in love.

Imado Shrine (Imado Jinjya)

1-5-22, Imato, Taito-ku, Tokyo 111-0024, Japan

At Imado Shrine, you may be able to meet “Nami-chan,” who is said to be a “living beckoning cat”.

It is said that if you look at Nami-chan, you will be successful not only in love but also in business.

Some people use it as a standby screen for their cell phones.


In this article, I explained the meaning of beckoning cats.

Try inviting happiness with your favorite color beckoning cat.

If you want to know more about Japanese culture and Japanese language,

you can find a teacher and book a class here.

Let’s study Japanese culture and language together!

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My name is Akihito. I've been a Japanese teacher for about 20 years. I'm currently teaching at a Japanese language school in Tokyo. Let's have fun studying Japanese together!