Sunday, April 29, 2012

Maneki Neko

Two days ago I had an honor of listening to one great man - a science fiction author, Bruce Sterling. He talked about the future, how his generation imagined the future 30 years ago, how it turned out and how we imagine the future today. This made me go through his work again and as a result of my digging, I came across his story which I haven't read before and which inspired this post.

The story is called "Maneki Neko" . You can read it here.

Maneki Neko is a Japanese figurine, very famous in Asian countries, but also in Western pop culture, which is believed  to bring luck and happiness to its owner. Maneki Neko is actually a cat made usually out of ceramics or plastic,  whose one paw is lifted in the air ( it looks like it's waving but it's actually beckoning) and in the other paw the cat holds a golden coin. The sculpture can often be seen at the entrances of shops, restaurants and other businesses. To me, it is quite interesting that Maneki Neko and what it stands for, associates luck and happiness to money, wealth and prosperity.

Boris Petrovsky, a German media artist, has already wandered off in the direction of my thoughts and produced a genius installation which includes 520 Maneki Neko's. His artwork is called "The global pursuit for happiness" or "The army of luck".

All images © Boris Petrovsky

Petrovsky's Lucky Cats are pre-programmed for different ways of saluting and signalizing gestures but can also interact with the audience by being given a word or sentence by a visitor which is then displayed through moving paws. All this is accompanied by sound samples of  mass or group events such as: political speeches, tv shows, demonstrations, sports events etc.

"The lined up, gold-reflecting mass of the Lucky Cats in the matrix appears almost as an insubstantially copy-paste-animation. The Lucky Cats in the matrix as an industrial made product become an »ornament of the masses« for repetetive-stererotype and globalized-industrialized ideals. Do we need more and more Lucky Cats to generate more and more prosperity for more and more people?" , Boris Petrovsky
And do we need more and more Lucky Cats to generate happiness? 
Oh, and one fun fact for the end of the post: Will Wright, the famous game designer, the creator of The Sims, is currently developing a game based on Bruce Sterling's story Maneki Neko.


  1. wow

    yepp, we need mo'

  2. I bought a maneki neko after watching Arashi’s tourism promotion video. ;P And I gave one as a present to a friend who came to visit Japan from Indonesia. I guess maneki neko is a popular luck item coz I always see it in restaurants. I didn’t notice that there’s a difference in meaning if the left or right paw is up until I read this post. Another informative insight I get from you. :thumbup:

    I sometimes see cats around our apartment (maybe my neighbor’s) and they’re fat! But they still run fast despite their weight.

    I hope you get to own a cat when you move to your new apartment.Just got this from PIJ in last month for my new apartment. Amazingly happy to get this

  3. Haa,I had no clue who Arashi was so I googled it after I saw your comment. This must be THE video:

    They definitely made their point with Maneki Nekos there. :D

    Anyway, thank you for sharing your experience with Maneki Neko.

    Hugs, Dee.