What Does Neko Mean

Discover the meaning of ‘neko’ in Japanese culture and its various connotations as a term for cats and personality traits in anime and manga.


Have you ever heard the term ‘neko’ and wondered what it means? In Japanese culture, neko has a special significance that goes beyond just being a cute word for cat. Let’s dive into the meaning of neko and explore its various connotations.

What is Neko?

Neko is the Japanese word for cat. It is a commonly used term in Japan to refer to our feline friends. Cats hold a special place in Japanese culture, being seen as symbols of good luck and fortune. Neko is also frequently used in anime, manga, and internet culture to depict cute and playful cats.

Neko in Japanese Culture

In Japanese folklore, cats are believed to have supernatural powers and are considered to bring good luck to their owners. The Maneki Neko, or ‘beckoning cat,’ is a popular talisman in Japan that is believed to bring wealth and prosperity. Many businesses in Japan display the Maneki Neko to attract customers and ensure success.

Neko as a Character Trait

Aside from its literal meaning, neko is also used to describe a personality trait in Japanese pop culture. In the world of anime and manga, characters are often categorized as ‘neko’ if they exhibit cat-like qualities such as being playful, independent, and mysterious. Neko characters are often depicted with cat ears and tails, adding to their cute and whimsical appeal.

Examples of Neko Characters

  • Chi from ‘Chi’s Sweet Home’ is a classic example of a neko character in anime.
  • Rin from ‘Fruits Basket’ is another popular neko character who embodies the playful and mischievous nature of a cat.
  • Luna from ‘Sailor Moon’ is a mystical neko character who guides the protagonist with her wisdom and magical abilities.

The Influence of Neko in Modern Culture

Neko has made its way into modern culture beyond Japan, with cat cafes and neko-themed merchandise becoming popular around the world. The internet is also filled with neko memes and videos that celebrate the quirky and adorable nature of cats.


In conclusion, neko is more than just a word for cat in Japanese culture. It embodies the playful, mysterious, and lucky qualities associated with our feline companions. Whether you are a cat lover or a fan of anime, neko is a term that holds a special place in the hearts of many.

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