Kongo was visiting the Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park today and came across this collection of cats. Actually they are Maneki Neko, or “welcoming cats” from Japan. Maneki Neko can have either the right or left paw raised with one paw meaning good luck and wealth while the other paw means a lot of customers will come in. There seems a lot of confusion about which is which.
The Maneki Neko cats started showing up in the Edo period of Japanese history (1603 – 1867) and became very common in the last 150 years and were exported to the West and became a pop icon. There is even strong suspicion that the popular children’s toy, Hello Kitty, evolved from the traditional Maneki Neko cats. Now, Kongo doesn’t know much about the origins of Hello Kitty although his granddaughter is all over these little creatures and even has a Hello Kitty back pack that Kongo has taken frequent rides in although at least half the time the back pack is worn upside down.
The Mingei International Museum exhibits folk art, craft, and design from all eras and cultures. It is located in Balboa Park near the center of San Diego and open Tuesday through Sunday 10 am to 4 pm. The museum is closed on Monday’s and national holidays. Adult admission is $8.