Kanji of the Day: 左(ひだり/さ) hidari/sa (left)

I’m sure most of you have seen the 招き猫 (manekineko), known as the “lucky cat” or “welcoming cat”, at some point in your life: their adorable gesture and look have attracted many fans all over the world, and now you can spot them not only at Japanese restaurants but Chinese, Taiwanese, and various other Asian restaurants and stores.

As the name “lucky cat” indicates, many of you probably know already that these kitties supposed to bring good luck. But did you know there were a left-handed (左利き – hidari kiki) 招き猫 and right-handed (右利き – migi kiki) one, and they have different meanings?!

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Although the interpretation slightly varies depending on regions, it is commonly believed that the 招き猫 with his 左手 (hidari te – left hand/paw) up brings customers, while 右手 (migi te – right hand/paw) brings fortune and money.

If you are a business owner, you probably want to get a lefty 招き猫 to ensure that you have a sustainable business. But hey, who doesn’t like money, right? 😉

So to make sure that you get both customers and money, you can get a pair of 招き猫 like this below; the lefty cat brings customers while righty cat brings money.

The oval gold coin that the left cat is holding says 千万両 (sen man ryō), which means one million ryō (an ancient Japanese currency), and the other coin says 招福 (shōfuku), or invite luck, which in this case, can be interpreted as customers.

 

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But be careful not to be too greedy and get a 招き猫 with both hands up, because it means that he is お手上げ (oteage – literally means “hands up”) which means he doesn’t know what to do! (It’s still super adorable though!)

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