If you're a cat lover, and are fond of Japan's beckoning lucky Maneki-Neko cat figurines, you should visit Gotokuji Temple, home of a thousand Maneki-Neko cats. But don't take any of them home with you, or you'll incur the wrath of its feline god Shobyo Kannon.
There are better ways of getting a Maneki-Neko figurine. Depending on your budget, you can spend as little as a few hundred yen for a small, cheap figurine in stores like Koide Shoten in Kappabashi, Tokyo, or pick up more uniquely designed and unconventional Maneki-Neko at stores like Yanakado in the old-fashioned Yanaka district for several thousand yen.
And then, if you're a truly discriminating collector, you can buy one of these Maneki-Neko figurines, as well as exquisite cat-themed kiriko cut glasses (see further below) now available from e-commerce site and "online department store" Fujimaki:
Unique Maneki-Neko lineup from Fujimaki
September 29th is Maneki-Neko Day because the numbers 9-2-9 can be pronounced ku-fu-ku, a stand-in for ku(ru) fuku 来る福 meaning "coming luck," which is what the Maneki-Neko beckons with its gesture.
To celebrate, Fujimaki is having a "cat" festival throughout the month of September. Here is just a sample of some of the very special and high-quality Maneki-Neko you can buy:
Kakinuma Ningyo x Inden Yamamoto
Realized through a remarkable collaboration between Kakinuma Ningyo, a maker of wood and cloth Edo Kimekomi Dolls, and Inden Yamamoto, a maker of Inden, a Japanese craft combining deerskin and lacquer, these Maneki-Neko cats are truly one-of-a-kind.
Price: 15,000 yen + tax. Product page
NAGAE+ Manekineko platinum gold leaf / silver leaf
This Maneki-Neko made by NAGAE+, an artistic metal foundry with headquarters in Takaoka, Toyama Prefecture, a city with a 400-year history of quality metalworking, is based on a mold found hidden in their factory untouched for 30 years. Using an antimony alloy technique developed in the Meiji Period for the body, and coated by a specialized craftsman with either gold-platinum alloy leaf or silver leaf, the warm and welcoming design of the Maneki-Neko shows the cat holding a koban coin with "one million ryō" written on it, symbolizing great wealth.
Price: 12,000 yen + tax. Product page.
Yoneda Tokodo Kutani ware
Made by Tokodo, a pottery maker founded in 1907 specializing in Kutani ware, these special ceramic Maneki-Neko have a doubly lucky design. With its right paw, it welcomes financial fortune, and with its left, it welcomes people to your home or customers to your business. The black cat is famous as fuku neko (fortune cat), the red one wards away disease.
Price: 5,500 yen + tax. Product page.
Kaya's cat-themed kiriko cut glass
Following the internationally praised art of Kiriko, a traditional Japanese cut glass craft, artist Kaya 可夜 ads his own love of cats to create incredible works which are sure to please cat lovers.
Blending the beautiful auburn color of the glass and the kiriko cutting pattern, this old-fashioned glass called hoshiyomi neko 星詠み猫, meaning a cat reading fortune in the stars, reveals a beautiful image of a cat against a background of what looks like a long-exposure photo of a starry night sky.
Price: 16,800 yen + tax. Product page.
If you like this design, you'll find many others which are just as evocative and beautiful, as well as other glass shapes, styles, and glassware on Kaya's BOOTH online store here. You can also follow him on Twitter here.
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