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Walk into any store, restaurant or even doctor’s office, and customers are most likely to find a Maneki Neko beckoning for attention.
Company President Robert Iida believes that the lucky cat’s friendly and welcoming demeanor is what attracts good luck, success and financial prosperity to any home or business.
“You’ll see them all clustered together, because I assume they don’t have enough space,” Iida said.
During the 17th to mid-19th century in Japan, the lucky cat raising its left paw sat traditionally in the front of the business to attract and invite customers. The cat with its right paw raised was placed in the back facing the back door to invite prosperity for the owner. Back then, the business owner worked in his office or lived together with his family in the rear of the store near the cash register.
Iida finds that most customers looking to purchase a lucky cat are not familiar with the meaning among the many choices available.
The white lucky cat is the one that invites happiness. Contrary to the Western belief that the black cat is bad luck, in Japan the black cat is meant to protect the business owner and family from illness. The gold cat represents wealth, riches and good fortune.
Another good thing to know is that lucky cats made in Japan compared to those made elsewhere are much lighter and more carefully handpainted in detail, Iida said.
Most people think that maneki neko are typically shared as gifts for newly opened businesses, but there are exceptions.
A lucky cat can also be given to a business celebrating its 10th or even 25th anniversary.
These clay figurines glazed on the outside are among the best for any joyous occasion, Iida said. “Flowers don’t last long, but the Maneki Neko lasts forever as long as you don’t drop it.”
contact // 973-0320
web // www.iidashawaii.com