Maneki Neko: What That Cat With the Raised Paw Means

Nov 27, 2019

This cat is a very custom maneki neko. The cats are a familiar sight in restaurants and retail establishments all over Hawai‘i and Japan--but not in front of homes. Why? Usually, the sculpture depicts a white cat with orange patches, a calico with one paw raised. What does this cat signify? Also, The new Downtown Art Center Shop welcomes artists.

Curator Maile Yawata with Wendy Kim's neko lanterns. Three kapa patterned maneki neko by Yvonne Cheng, below.
Credit Hawai'i Public Radio

Maneki neko come in various sizes and are rather souped up these days, with solar powered paws, etc. If you look closely, the cat often has a golden yen hanging from its red collar.  Some say, Right paw raised: Brings wealth and good luck. Left paw raised: Attracts customers into a place of business. Both raised, protection---and the higher the better!

Esther Shimazu. "Chip" double cat. Ceramic.
Credit Hawai'i Public Radio

Maneki neko are the theme of a multi media art show curated by artist Maile Yawata, who offered a tour for The Conversation. 

See maneki neko in ceramic, fabric, cast resin, and more, at fishcake on Auahi street and at South Shore Market through January 2, 2020.

In the Converstaion segment, Barbara Rau, the new director and innovator of the Downtown Art Center Shop, welcomes especially neighbor island artists to submit work.  Send images and materials to .

Honolulu Biennial Executive Director Katherine Tuider also voices support for a 14,000 sf Downtown Art Center in City-owned property above the new Shop. The City would be asked for an in-kind investment in Honolulu's creative community of perhaps, part of the rent or maintenance. Community support would be crucial.