This top depicts a maneki neko (beckoning cat). A maneki neko is a cat figurine often placed at the entrance of shops, restaurants, and other businesses to bring good fortune. The cat holds up one paw, either the right or the left, depending on what kind of luck it beckons in. Typically, the right paw indicates good luck and wealth, while the left invites in customers, although interpretations differ by area. Some maneki neko have both paws raised or feature different colors. Maneki neko also often feature gold coins called koban (小判) around their necks or in their hand, which were currency used during the Edo period (1600-1868) in Japan.
Hiroi Michiaki: This is a maneki neko (beckoning cat). And it’s raising its right paw. If their right paws are raised, it’s [beckoning] money [to come to you]. If it’s the left paw, it’s inviting people. And this one has the right, so it’s inviting money. Ahh, there’s money placed with it [in the photograph]. Heh heh heh. Long ago, if it was in Edo [contemporary Tokyo], the left paw up [meant money], and if you went to Kansai, it was the right. But nowadays the left is for money and the right is for people. Sometimes both are raised, though. But you shouldn’t do that. Heh heh heh. Because it’s a catch 22, wanting both money and people and raising both hands.