When the cat is greeting you…

Maneki Neko, also known as welcoming cat, lucky cat or money cat, is a common Japanese sculpture, which is believed to bring good luck to the owner.

Therefore it is not a mystery why you can see them in Asian shops’ windows. Have you recently seen one? Probably  not, because in Germany there are not as many Asian shops like in other cities; we also do not have a well known China Town here. It’s different in London or San Francisco, there they have a China Town, and it is really lovely to see all these little shops and stalls where they sell cute little charms and delicious food.

But did you ever wonder why they have these many little stores next to each other instead of having one big store or one Asian mall?


It seems to have its roots in Asian culture. Whenever I go to Vietnam, I can take the same picture: small shop next to small shop, even offering the same things as their neighbors; they grow like mushrooms in the forest; and there are rarely big shopping malls or chain stores like H&M or Kaiser’s.

When going outside of Asia, there are several approaches explaining why there are rather small and familistic shops.

BBC,using the term “Corner shop culture”, suggests, that when Asian immigrants came to England, they “occupied” small corner shops as “it was a living, just, and it meant that immigrants could avoid some of the racism and discrimination prevalent in other industries. Self-employment was the key.”

So Asian immigrants had no other choice than having their own store to earn money? Other British newspapers such as MailOnline argue the same way, it is referred to as “the immigrant work ethic”.

Could be true though, I mean almost all my parents’ friends have their own shops, may it be a restaurant, a flower shop, a grocery store or a mail salon. It even developed that far now that Asian people are automatically associated with nail salons.

Well, this historical point seems to be very reasonable. But this view appears very one sided to me.

Here is what my dad told me when I asked him:

Asian people don’t like the way Western people do business. They do not like to be employed, rather they like to work within their family being their own boss. Family business and self-employment is preferred, therefore everybody has his or her own little shop with its own charm.

Another opinion. However my dad as well touches this issue of immigrants and consequently the missing chance to education.
So there seems to lie some truth in there.

Hm, alright,but that was in the past. What about now? Will the next generation still stick to the “small shops” method? Or will they go into a different direction and let all the small shops die? Time will show…


About Mai

My name is Mai, I'm 23 years old and currently studying in Berlin. I am especially interested in different cultures, art, design and like to be surrounded by beautiful things. This is my first time blogging, I will try to provide many interesting and diverse topics and inspirations for you to read. I'm open for discussions, feedback and ideas from other bloggers, so don't be shy if there are any questions or suggestions. Have fun exploring!
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7 Responses to When the cat is greeting you…

  1. Pingback: 3 weeks of blogging , being creative and exposing « fastexposure

  2. tkronsbein says:

    Hey Mai,

    I love your posts! This is a fact. I really enjoyed reading this. It is funny and good structured. My opinion is that you already mastered the science of posting. ^^ Nothing to criticize!

  3. stefochka says:

    I really like that you mix professional with personal resources and season to taste it with a sense of humor! your headline catched me and I have to admit that I saw one of these cats yesterday at a friend’s house and wondered why she would keep such a [senseless] thing.-now I know!:)

  4. lilmeu says:

    Hey Mai!
    I´m very interested in your blog post because I also wrote a blog entry about the economy in Japan (https://fastexposure.wordpress.com/2012/04/29/fujuso-and-other-japanese-marketing-stuff-11-2/).
    It was really nice to get to know the “welcoming cat” because I never have seen one before. Somehow kitschy, isn´t it? 🙂
    As you already have written, the Japanese behaviour is so different in comparison with the German or US-American one! The customers there just attach importance to other things than people from our country. Personally, I cannot imagine a German shopping arcarde with lots of different, small shops instead of one or two huge shopping centers! Germans like to go in a shop once and get there everything they wanted to buy.
    I actually thought that Japanese people prefer small shops because they like it to shop at different places to explore different products. It partly seems to be true as well, but I never imagined that this is also concerned with their work ethic. How interesting!
    I also have to compliment that you included your personal experiences in your blog post as well, for example the quotation of your father. That makes your entry more attractive and realistic! The video, you have included, is very suitable as well!

    Well done, May! I´m looking forward to read your next blog post! 🙂

  5. katharinakueppers says:

    Hola Mai,
    I really like how diverse your blog-entry is, a quote, video, a picture and your own expirience.. I’m impressed!
    About the cat, I’ve seen it very often before, it’s nice to get to know the story behind it! Actually I think it’s fairly ugly :D:D
    Also I enjoyed that you give us something to think about, the question about the future of asian kids is very nice.
    Makes us getting active with our mind too. Really nice!

  6. mirkalilka says:

    When I saw the heading of your post “When the cat is greeting you…”, I didn’t really know what I could expect. This was in fact a good choice that you made because it made me curious and I wanted to read further. Using the image of Maneki Neko, the welcoming cat as an introduction to your topic is both creative and catchy. I never paid attention to this so called “corner shop culture”, but now that you mentioned it I have a particular picture in my mind and I remember all the small shops that I saw when I was in London’s China town. I like the fact that you quoted experts on the one hand to support your arguments but that you also asked your family members on the other hand. Good job, Mai!:)

  7. click here says:

    Mate! This site is awesome. How can I make it look like this !?

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