There are many superstitions about running a business in Japan. The most famous one involves placing a maneki neko (beckoning cat) figurine in your store or office. These figures have really exploded in popularity in recent years, with people using them not just as lucky charms but also as adorable cat-themed interior decorations. Still, the part where they are said to attract good luck your way is a big part of their appeal. One of the most interesting kinds of maneki neko are the golden versions, which we will discuss together with their meanings in this article. We’ll also recommend some of our favorite golden maneki neko figures, perfect for both the home and the workplace.
The Meaning Behind the Golden Maneki Neko
The maneki neko is a lucky charm figure of a cat using one (or both) of its front paws to invite good luck your way. Cats have been considered lucky in Japan since ancient times because they hunted the rats that threatened people’s grain supplies or silkworms (back when silk production was a huge industry in Japan).
Maneki neko figures come in many colors, each one meaning a different thing. Let’s talk more about what the golden maneki neko represents.
Gold and Yellow Are Colors of Wealth and Financial Fortune
Yellow is a color said to bring wealth and help out in matters of love and marriage. Gold is said to improve the household’s financial fortune using the power of feng shui.
The color of a maneki neko doll and where you place it in the house are closely related. For example, the golden maneki neko used to improve your financial fortune should be placed facing west. This way, the sparkly gold color of the maneki neko figure becomes even more beautiful in the gold glow of the evening sun, which sets in the west.
Golden Maneki Neko Are Also Popular in Taiwan and China!
Maneki neko aren’t just found in Japanese homes. They’re also popular abroad, and before the pandemic, they were often bought and given as souvenirs. These days, most people buy them online.
The cats are especially popular in China and Taiwan, where most people buy the figurines just before the Lunar New Year. In fact, gold is the most popular maneki neko color in all of China, with people using the figures to pray for longevity and the prosperity of one’s family. And the easiest way to achieve those things is to be rich, which the golden maneki neko can supposedly help you out with.
Maneki neko are equally popular in Taiwan. Like in Japan, you will often see them in front of shops and behind cash registers.
Things to Consider Before Purchasing a Golden Maneki Neko
Though they may all look the same, there are in fact many different kinds of golden maneki neko. Here are three essential things to watch out for when purchasing one:
1. The Material
Historically, maneki neko figurines were mostly made from ceramic or porcelain. Those materials are quite durable and hold their shape well, but can easily shatter when dropped on a hard surface. They also tend to be a little heavy but, on the plus side, they are usually quite affordable.
There are also glass maneki neko figurines. Even Baccarat, the French manufacturer of fine crystal, has released their own maneki neko figurines, though they are quite expensive and hard to get your hands on. However, the main problem with glass is that it’s even more fragile than ceramics.
You then have maneki neko figures made from metal, but those made entirely from this material are quite rare because it makes them very heavy. It’s more common for golden maneki neko to be covered in gold leaf or to be gold-plated. Maneki neko figurines covered in gold leaf tend to differ greatly in quality depending on the maker, while the plated ones may have dents or other irregularities, so make sure to check for those before making a purchase.
2. The Size
It’s important to choose a maneki neko figurine that’s just the right size for where you plan to place it.
Most maneki neko are about 15-20 cm in height. Those over 20 cm are considered “large” (大) and those exceeding 30 cm are labeled “extra-large” (特大). Now, if you want your figure to stand out and draw attention, you should go for one over 20 centimeters tall. However, if you’re looking for something to place around the register, go for a miniature maneki neko no more than 10 cm in height.
Needless to say, if you’re buying a gold leaf-covered figurine, the bigger it is, the more money you’ll have to spend, so take all of that into consideration before making a purchase.
The majority of maneki neko figurines depict the cats sitting down, though some are in the standing up position. With the latter, it makes the figures quite tall and, in some cases, unstable.
A tall maneki neko figurine without a base is liable to topple from the slightest tremor, so before buying one of those, make sure that it is sufficiently stable. Choose one with a base or one that comes with a cushion.
Stability is also closely connected to a figure’s weight. If a maneki neko’s center of gravity is high, it should come attached to a stabilizing base. If it’s not, perhaps consider a different figurine.
8 Recommended Golden Maneki Neko Figurines
Below, you’ll find a list of recommended maneki neko figurines, which were chosen based on the criteria discussed above.
Golden Maneki Neko #1
This modern figurine features a simple yet adorable golden bell.
[Hizen Yoshida Ware] WakuWaku Office Kata Koto Maneki Neko (White)
Kata Koto is a maneki neko ceramics brand launched by WakuWaku Office in 2019. The simple and modern design of this particular Kata Koto figurine makes it incredibly easy to use as interior decoration as it does not clash with anything.
This is actually a savings box with the money slot hidden in the back underneath a ribbon, so you can use the figurine to brighten up your home and to build up your nest egg. This maneki neko would make the perfect gift to celebrate starting a new business.
Golden Maneki Neko #2
The black color of this cool cat figurine makes the gold of its ribbon shine even brighter!
[Hizen Yoshida Ware] WakuWaku Office Kata Koto Maneki Neko (Black)
This is the black version of the Kata Koto maneki neko discussed above. The dark color of the figurine makes the gold of its ribbon and bell shine even brighter, making it perfect for modern interior decoration.
Same as before, the money slot is hidden underneath a ribbon for discreetly building up your nest egg. The figurine can also be used instead of an envelope when gifting someone money. What a novel idea!
In some places, black cats are considered unlucky, but in Japan they have been beloved lucky charms said to ward off evil since ancient times.
Golden Maneki Neko #3
This kimekomi-style maneki neko from Kakinuma Dolls is overflowing with charm!
[Edo Art Dolls] Kakinuma Dolls Maneki Neko (Extra Large) Yuzen Gold
Founded in 1950 in Tokyo, Kakinuma Dolls is a workshop specializing in the designated traditional Japanese craft of Edo Kimekomi. They mainly produce “Sekku Ningyo”, which are dolls like the famous Hina displayed during Japan’s Doll’s Festival (March 3), also known as the Peach Festival. “Sekku” means “seasonal festival” and refers to celebrations held all around Japan since ancient times and centered around rice cropping and other parts of everyday life in Japan. Kakinuma Dolls has flourished since the second head of the company, Kakinuma Toko, moved the workshop to the city of Koshigaya in Saitama Prefecture (map) and currently employs over 30 artisan dollmakers.
This kimekomi-style maneki neko is one of their most famous products. Unlike in conventional kimekomi crafts, Kakinuma Toko uses Yuzen kimono silk with this maneki neko, giving the figurine a lot of additional charm.
Golden Maneki Neko #4
This luxurious maneki neko is made with an abundance of creped silk and high-functional resin.
[Edo Art Dolls] Kakinuma Dolls Maneki Neko (Golden) Feng Shui Fortune
This is another maneki neko by the Kakinuma Dolls company. However, this one is entirely gold-colored, making it feel more luxurious. Gold can sometimes be a little ostentatious but there is no hint of that here, with these figures being adorable and elegant examples of the kind of high quality you can expect from the Kakinuma Dolls workshop.
The figurines’ elbows and knees are decorated with traditional Japanese motifs in dark tones. The amount of detail seen in the designs clearly shows that the artisans poured their heart and soul into this product. The figurines are resting on red cushions, which match the gold color of the cats perfectly. And because they are very reasonably priced, these maneki neko make perfect gifts for someone starting a new business.
Golden Maneki Neko #5
This deluxe maneki neko is covered entirely in pure 24-karat gold leaf.
[Kanazawa Gold Leaf] Extra Large Lucky Maneki Neko (Left Paw Up)
This exquisite maneki neko is covered in 24-karat gold leaf from Kanazawa, a famous producer of the gilding material. The figurine is shown holding a gold coin worth 10,000,000 ryo (an old gold currency unit) to make it an even more potent lucky charm for attracting wealth. Even the maneki neko’s eyes are gold, allowing the figurine to give off a different, brilliant glimmer depending on how the light hits it.
The wooden sign that comes with the maneki neko identifies it as an example of Kanazawa Gold Leaf Cloth Kimekomi, which works wonderfully as interior decoration in any setting, be it the office or the living room. The stable base is another great selling point of this product. However, because it is gilded with real 24-karat gold, proper steps should be taken to secure it, like you would with any other valuable.
Golden Maneki Neko #6
This cat has both of its paws up, which means even more good luck! Plus, its big round eyes are so adorable!
[Kutani Ware] Yellow Double-Paw Maneki Neko #4 Lucky Charm Figurine
This maneki neko is an example of Kutani ware, which is produced in the Kutani region of Ishikawa Prefecture. An interesting thing about this lucky charm is that it has both of its paws up, which, together with its big round eyes and adorable face, is rare among maneki neko. It’s said that a maneki neko’s right paw attracts money and the left customers, so a maneki neko with both paws up is the perfect figurine for people hoping to succeed in business.
The eyes are what make the figurine cute while its golden bell is what gives it an air of luxury. It’s a combination that’s impossible to resist.
Golden Maneki Neko #7
Thanks to its cushion, this gorgeous, gilded maneki neko figurine is amazingly stable!
Shirasaki Hachimangu Wealth-Attracting Golden Maneki Neko Covered in Traditional Gold Leaf
This magnificent maneki neko is made with gold leaf and ceramic blessed at the Shirasaki Hachimangu Shrine in Iwakuni, Yamaguchi Prefecture (map), which is known for performing miracles since 1250. Maneki neko with their right paw up are common, but the size of this figure’s front limb makes it unique among similar lucky charms.
The gold color of the figurine works really well with the red of its collar and cushion, the latter of which also provides stability, making it easy to place the figurine anywhere in the house, store, or office.
Golden Maneki Neko #8
This Seto ware maneki neko has its own unique aura!
Classical Taisho Period-Style Large Maneki Neko (Golden), 36.5cm, 2,300g
This maneki neko is an example of Seto ware, a traditional type of Japanese pottery made in and around the city of Seto in Aichi Prefecture (map). The entire figure, including its decoration, is entirely handmade, so no two are ever exactly the same.
It takes a lot of time to produce just one of these maneki neko, giving them all a unique aura. Besides a welcomed addition to your home, this figurine would also make a great present for someone starting a new business.
Get Rich with Your Very Own Golden Maneki Neko
As the price of gold keeps going up, more and more people think of the precious metal as something that they could never afford. However, there are very reasonably-priced golden maneki neko out there, and not only do they look magnificent thanks to their coloring, they also help you succeed in business, so why not buy one for yourself or someone close to you?
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*These products may not be able to be shipped to certain countries. Please see the retailer’s website for more information.
The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.