Even if you’ve never set foot in Japan, chances are you’ve probably seen a maneki-neko somewhere. They’re the standing cat figurines that often come in white or gold, and the way you can tell they’re not just any other cat is through the distinctive raised arm that’s supposed to be beckoning you—hence the name that literally means “beckoning cat”.

The figurines are associated with good luck, and they’re one of the traditional symbols you’ll often see recreated in various types of artwork. There are also plenty of maneki neko-themed items being sold in Japan, so naturally, when a shop that sells cat-themed items and a shop that sells traditional Japanese gifts decide to collaborate together, you can already tell which direction they’ll be going.

Akomeya Cats is a series of everyday items and food with maneki-neko designs created by Japanese picture book illustrator, Ayako Ishiguro. They’re a collaboration product line by online cat merchandise store, Cat’s ISSUE, and Japanese food and gift shop, Akomeya Tokyo.

Ishiguro is known for illustrating images of bakeneko, a type of supernatural cat that appears in Japanese folklore. They were depicted as wild creatures that often caused trouble for humans (not entirely unlike real cats), and you can see how she incorporates this part of her work in the designs of the maneki-neko—there’s just this certain look of mischievousness in their eyes.

If you want to get a hold of these lucky cats, they’re being sold in Akomeya Tokyo stores. They have different items such as phone cases, wallets, plates, and chopsticks, all of which are very stylishly designed.

If you’d rather have food with the images of the maneki-neko on them instead, they also have Japanese snack items, such as dorayaki, a type of mini pancake filled with red bean paste, or senbei, a type of rice cracker.

For a limited time, the Akomeya Tokyo branches in Kagurazaka and Marunouchi will also have drinks and sardine onigiris, or Japanese rice balls, that come with small cut-outs of Ishiguro’s maneki-neko illustrations.

The Akomeya Cats line of food and products are being sold in all branches of Akomeya Tokyo, and on their online store. They’re only available from February 15 to March 5, 2020. You can view a full list of the available maneki-neko goods here, and find all of their shop locations here.


By - Jen Santelices.