Life in China: A Picture A Day, March 20, 2016

The cat of many names!: Originally from Japan, and called Maneki-neko, which means “Beckoning Cat,” in English most commonly known as “Lucky Cat,” and in Chinese “Zhao cai mao 招财猫 ” or “Welcoming Wealth Cat.” Westerners often think the cat is waving, but it represents the Japanese way of beckoning. The lucky cat dates back to the 1800’s in Japan, is known around the world, and is extremely popular in modern China. It is often found in businesses as it is believed it will bring good luck and wealth. Having right, left, or both paws raised, and also what it is wearing or holding, can all have special meanings. The most common is to have the left paw raised (often battery powered to move up and down) and wearing a red collar with a gold bell. There are many folktales about the cat, as well as numerous modern day characters depicted from Maneki-neko. Traditionally, the coloring represented a tri-color calico Japanese bobtail cat, but today it can be found in many colors, especially white, gold, red and black. There are entire stores for selling them, and they show up in all kinds of places! These pictures show the Lucky Cat at a local restaurant we like to eat at, some meat floss snack cakes at the local grocery store, a lucky cat shop from the Spring Festival flower market, and a mug with a lid for sale at a local store.