Ever wonder about all of the porcelain cats by the front door of Japanese and Chinese restaurants? These are Maneki Neko-translation=invitation cat. The origin is somewhat murky, but we do know they originated in Japan, and the raised paw is meant to invite the visitor or patron inside. Mineki Nekos are considered good luck for businesses, and many have them en mass greeting guests as they enter.
I have my own collection from my time in Japan, but you can pick them up almost anyplace now. They are so popular, SFO International airport has an exhibit going on now with stories and in various materials.
I love them and can’t really have enough!
From SFO International Airport Exhibit:
A photo I took at a storefront in San Francisco, CA: