Totoro chopstick rests, lanterns, cups, and figurines created by Shigaraki craftsmen specialising in tanuki raccoon dog figurines.
Japan has a long and revered history of pottery making that stretches all the way back to the Jōmon period (10,000–300 BCE), making it one of the world’s oldest ceramic traditions in the world.
Today, this esteemed history of earthenware production is being upheld by the country’s most noteworthy ceramic kilns, known as the Six Ancient Kilns, consisting of Seto ware and Tokoname ware in Aichi Prefecture, Bizen ware in Okayama Prefecture, Echizen ware in Fukui Prefecture, Tamba ware in Hyogo Prefecture, and Shigaraki ware in Shiga Prefecture.
All these kilns produce distinctive styles of pottery unique to their area, and for Shigaraki ceramicists, their claim to fame is the tanuki raccoon dog figure, commonly seen outside ramen restaurants as a lucky figure that helps draw good fortune to their business.
▼ This promotional display for the town that produces
Shigaraki Ware showcases the tanuki they’ve become famous for.
Now, the tanuki craftsmen are using their skills to craft a series of products dedicated to an equally rotund and adorable character: Totoro from the Studio Ghibli anime film My Neighbour Totoro.
The new collection of handmade merchandise has been created by Shiga Prefecture’s Meizan Ceramics using sandy clay from the bed of Lake Biwa, the biggest lake in Japan, which gives each piece a distinctive warm orange hue.
▼ This three-piece Totoro set retails for 11,664 yen (US$105).
The price might seem steep, but each piece has been carefully handmade by a master craftsman in the centuries-old Shigaraki ware tradition.
In addition to the Totoro figurine trio, Meizan have created some other items in homage to Totoro and his anime friends, like this chopstick rest set, which retails for 2,916 yen.
The four-piece set contains a small, medium and large Totoro, along with a black soot sprite seen in the film.
And if you want to add some matching drinkware to your chopstick rests, Meizan have created these adorable handcrafted mugs in green and white, which retail for 3,240 yen each.
Rounding off the Totoro homewares collection is this LED lamp, which has been so delicately made it allows light to seep through its surface.
▼ Retailing for 4,104 yen, this is one of the most popular Totoro items in their range.
The complete collection is currently available to purchase from the Village Vanguard online store, where some items have been so popular they’ve already sold out. However, out-of-stock products are still in stock at the official Meizan site, which offers international shipping, so you’ll be able to add these to your other limited-edition Totoro collectibles, no matter what country you’re living in!