A-Yokai-A-Day: Maneki neko

While we had owls yesterday, today I want to showcase another Halloween staple: cats!

Although this cat is not bad luck like a black cat, but instead is a symbol of very good luck. In fact, you’re probably already familiar with this by its common English name, “lucky cat.” If you’ve ever been to a Japanese restaurant or store, chances are you’ve seen these in statue-form near the entrance. These days, it’s not even uncommon to see them Chinese and other non-Japanese Asian stores, but they are original Japanese creatures. (It’s so rare that you get to see folklore that was invented in Japan make its way to China, because usually it’s the opposite!)

Today’s A-Yokai-A-Day is another request from Patreon from a backer who really wanted to see the maneki neko covered. It was a fun request, because this is one of those creatures that hardly seems yokai-ish. Indeed, while its certainly folklore, it doesn’t seem to have anything strange or eerie about it, and those are hallmarks of yokai-ish-ness (whatever that is!). And while I think most Japanese would not include these in their definition of yokai, some of the folklore around the origins of these lucky idols is clearly square in the realm of eerie, and I think it’s quite fair to say that these fall within the realm of yokai as it is loosely defined.

There are actually quite a few famous stories about the maneki neko, and a few of them claim to be the “original” story that started the entire trend. What’s interesting is that we really can trace the maneki neko back to a certain point (1852) before which there were no maneki neko, and after which they seemed to be everywhere. Wherever it came from, I hope you’ll enjoy the strangeness of the story included, and the art as well!

Click below to read about the maneki neko! And if you want to help me make more of these paintings and translations, become a Patreon backer for just $1 per month and support my yokai work!

Maneki neko

Maneki neko

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