I've told several of the maneki neko origin stories on this blog, telling how the lucky good fortune cat rose to prominence, and why it is believed that the maneki neko brings fortune or business. Here is a simple tale.
Many have noted similarities between the Maneki Neko's gesture and that of a cat washing its face.
There is a Japanese belief that a cat washing its face signifies that a visitor will soon arrive.
And this belief could easily be related to an even older Chinese proverb which states that, if a cat washes its face, it will rain.
And what easier way to get a visitor inside than a sudden downpour?
Thus a cat washing its face, or a figure of a cat washing its face, would bring customers into a shop.
So buy one. Buy several. It just might work.