Theories About the Origin of Maneki-Neko
What is a Maneki-Neko
The Maneki-Neko is an ornament in the shape of a cat beckoning with its forepaw.
The Maneki-Neko is a very familiar lucky charm among Japanese people.
We can see it everywhere such as next to a cash register, at the front desk of acompany and at the entrance of private homes in Japan.
The Maneki-Neko has different benefits depending on their colors, pose, and various accoutrements.
The origin of the Maneki-Neko
There are various theories about the origin of the Maneki-Neko. Here are three of the most well-known ones.
●The theory of a cat picture
In ancient times, cats were cherished by producers of silk (sericulturists) and farmers because they got rid of mice that fed on silkworms and agricultural crops.
But there were not that many cats in the early Edo period(about 1603-1868)
Some people could get a cat, but people in general could not.
For this reason, instead of having a real cat, people drew a cat on paper and put it on their house wall then prayed to the cat picture for a thriving business.
●The theory of Asakusa Imado Shrine
According to Buko nenpyo（a chronology of the Edo period), in 1852, an old woman who was living Asakusa in Tokyo, gave up her beloved cat because of poverty.
But one day, the cat appeared in her dream and said ‘If you make dolls modeled after me, you can get happiness and become rich’.
So, the old woman made the dolls modeled after her cat with clay and sold them around Asakusa Imado Shrine. They become an immediate sensation and it has been said that she became very wealthy.
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●The theory of Gotoku Temple
There are some theories that the Maneki-Neko originated from Gotoku Temple which is located in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo.
In the Edo period, Naotaka Ii, who was the second lord of the Hikone domain, was passing the main gate of Gotoku Temple on the way back from hunting with his falcon.
Then a pet cat of the priest of the temple made a gesture in front of the gate, as if it had beckoned for Naotaka to enter, so he dropped in for a rest. At the time, a thunderstorm arrived suddenly.
Because Naotaka was glad to have avoided the thunderstorm, he later made a large donation to the rundown Gotoku Temple in order to rebuild it. After that the Gotoku Temple became prosperous again.
After the cat died, the priest built a tomb to mourn for it. In a later age, a hall of the Maneki-Neko was built in the precincts of the temple. Since then, people have produced ornaments called maneginego (an inviting cat) in the shape of a cat raising a paw.
Despite these theories, the real origin of the Maneki-Neko remains a mystery. Wherever it came from, the Maneki-Neko has become deeply rooted in Japanese culture. Its changing colors, designs, and materials, have been produced and sold all over the country.
Next time we will explain about the various benefits each Maneki-Neko has
We will introduce the various benefits each type of Maneki-Neko has in the next article so you can find the right one to bring you good luck. Thank you for taking the time to read our blog!👇Please check out the article at the link below.
Various Benefits of Each Maneki-Neko. Part1