Top Cats

Now, it’s probably no surprise to anyone that stops by here that we claim to be “dog people”. So, it was a nice change of pace the other day when we took a trip to San Diego’s Balboa Park to stop in and see some cats.

You see, for a few months, the Mingei Museum in Balboa Park is hosting an exhibit of Maneki Neko – the Japanese “Beckoning Cat” or as its occasionally known the “money cat”. The beckoning cat sculpture likely goes back a few centuries in Japan and gained broad exposure at the end of the 19th century. Over time, they’ve come to be symbols for good luck, good health, and good business.

The exhibit was a private collection on display of all sorts of cats – many very old ones dating back a century or more that were carved from wood or made from ceramic.

Rows upon rows


Old guy

I also learned that I suppose I should have been recognizing a pretty famous figure is a derivation of a Maneki Neko – Hello Kitty!

Maneki Neko Hello Kitty

It was a great exhibit and a great excuse to head down to the park on a gorgeous Saturday. We saw the park decked out in its Christmas best and also stopped by my personal favorite, the Botanical Building.

Reindeer and Palm Trees


Botantical Building Dome



Great day!

31 thoughts on “Top Cats

  1. I love days like that!
    I should have Ashlee get a picture of her cat, Murray, in “beckoning” pose. He often sits with a paw raised. He’s a natural!

  2. This is great! I love living vicariously through the explorations of others. Thanks for inviting me. Those cats though, while cute, it is as if they are saying, “Fight the Power!”

  3. I still get confused seeing Christmas decorations against palm trees. I realize that in Bethlehem, the original one in Palestine, there would have been palm trees and no snow on the ground, but for someone who lived in Minnesota for so long, seeing a sleigh with reindeer flying over date palms is surreal.

    But I love maneki nekos! (Hmm, in Japanese there’s no plural. Oh well.) I have a collection of my own in storage, but none of them are as old as the ones in your photographs. I’m a bit jealous. Glad you and the Beloved had a fun weekend!

    • HG — your ears must’ve been burning that day, because we both wondered whether with your heritage you’d had exposure to maneki neko and that it would be fun to tour the exhibits with you.

      We’ll make sure to schedule museum time during your visit to San Diego! :)

  4. You two make such a lovely couple in photographs, Steve. Love this one and amazing photos. And no joke, those cat statues just emanate good luck. But of course I am the classic cat person. Although I think anyone would find human-cat relationships in history an interesting read. My aunt gave me a book called When Cats Reigned like Kings, quite enlightening.

  5. This is very cool!

    I am a self-described dog person, myself, and I good-naturedly tease my mother-in-law who just cannot help but be a cat person. When I met my wife, about a half-dozen were at the house. They were all of one litter, and after the last died off, she gets two more…? I do not understand.

    Now Cimmy (the missus) claims to be an “animal person” but since we are both allergic to cat dander (me more so), we likely won’t have any cats. But I do remember LOLBeeeze taking a few photos of these beckoning cats, and I’m pretty sure I’ve seen a few myself in East Asian-themed restaurants.

    • Jaklumen — of course, being a crass American, I had thought they were some sort of crass Chinese restaurant schtick. I was glad to learn some of the history behind them!

      • I think that’s not too bad a perspective to start from– I would say that now, you understand how it has meaning and purpose for the restaurant owners.

        And of course… we don’t claim the market on limited perspectives. I think we can good-naturedly rib our British friends and claim they taught us how to do that ;-) (In fact, I’m still wondering why we aren’t trading more notes on immigration views, with Europe as well… there are similar patterns.)

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