From March 7th through March 15th, Risa Takahashi held a personal exhibition in a small gallery called KIYA in Koenji, Tokyo. There was a concern about the influence of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus), but it was possible to finish it safely and enthusiastically.

We introduce some of her exhibited and sold workpieces. Every cat has a unique name. Hope you enjoy!

By the way, she gave me this cat mustache at the gallery!!
I put it on top of my mask.

Su-mi-ma Sen-bei

The cat is eating a rice cracker apologetically.
Japanese “Su-mi-ma-sen” means “I’m so sorry,” and “Sen-bei” means “rice crackers.”
One day, when eating a rice cracker, Risa noticed that her cat was looking at her from beneath lowered brows, inspiring her to make this work.

Nusutto ta-ke da-ke shii
The audacity of the thief

This work came up from the Japanese proverb “Nu-su-tto ta-ke da-ke shii” meaning in English that “bold as thieves” or “only thieves could be so bold.” Risa also simply likes the sound of “Nu-su-tto Ta Ke Da Ke Shii.”
Japanese “nu-su-tto” means thieves and “ta-ke da-ke shii” means “brazen” or “shameless”. This stilts are made of bamboo, and bamboo is called “ta-ke” in Japanese. When the same word continues two consecutive times, the sound of the second word sometimes be muddy. So, “ta-ke ta-ke shii” will be “ta-ke da-ke shii.”
For a thief, it is impossible to ride on a stilt, a play equipment for children.

Kyuri-no-Rikyu
Rikyu cat preparing tea on a cucumber

In Japanese, “Kyuri” means “cucumber.” “Rikyu” is the founder of Japanese tea ceremony. In English, the Japanese word “no” means “of”, “belonging to”, “at”, “in”, “on” or “for”. In this case, it corresponds to “on” in English, so the title means “Rikyu on cucumber.”
This work was inspired by the pronunciation of “kyu” contained in Kyuri (cucumber) and Rikyu, respectively.

Neko-ni-Toban

This work was inspired by the Japanese proverb “Neko ni Koban” which is equivalent to “Do not cast pearls before swine.” Neko means cats and Koban means gold.
The straight meaning of this title of the work is “It’s your turn to clean the floor!” “Toban” means not only “duty”, “on-duty” or “duty person” but also “ceramic plate.” So, you can also consider this work indicates the cats are cleaning the ceramic plate.

Neko Da-ke-do In-guen Da-mo-no

“Da-ke-do” means “but” or “however,” and “In-guen” means green beans in English. “Da-mo-no” means “because.”
This title is based on the Japanese poet and calligrapher Mitsuo Aida’s poem collection, “Nin-guen Da-mo-no” (Because we are human), which is known to people throughout Japan.

Mitsuo’s calligraphy says: “You can fail, because we’re human.”
This work was inspired by the similar pronunciation of Nin-guen (humans) and In-guen (green beans).

O-mo-te-na-su

This is a title that takes into account the word “O-mo-te-na-shi” released from the mouth of free announcer Christel Takigawa during the presentation at the IOC general meeting for the Tokyo Olympics. “O-mo-te-na-shi” refers to providing hospitality, entertainment and services to customers with all their heart.

Risa punned on “O-mo-te-na-shi” on “O-mo-te-na-su” (Japanese word “nasu” means “eggplant”), and created a cat sitting on an eggplant cushion and serving tea to customers with a proud look.

Here is the presentation at the IOC general meeting:
“O-mo-te-na-shi” Christel introduced appears around the 10 second mark of the video.

Click the link below:
=> O-mo-te-na-shi

No-Bi-i-ru

This cat is relaxing and stretching. English word “stretching” corresponds to “No-bi-ru” in Japanese. “No-bi-ru” in turn, in a certain situation, means “get drunk” in English. Beer, an alcoholic beverage, is pronounced “bi-i-ru” in Japanese. So, this work is titled “No-bi-i-ru” meaning that the cat is stretching and also drinking beer and got drunk.

Soy Ne (Co-sleeping)

“Co-sleeping” is called “so-i-ne” in Japanese. Japanese food “tofu” is made from soy. So Risa made this work and titled “Soy Ne”. Do you like it?

Ha-ko-bu neko

This work was made in a clay cat making classroom with the box theme. “Ha-ko-bu” means “carry” in English.
Neko ga Neko no haitta hako wo hako-n-de i-masu.

A cat is carrying a cat in a box.

Hanga Gan-ba-len (Let me take a break)

The keywords of this work are wood-block prints (Hanga in Japanese), and Balen, a pressing and rubbing pad the cat hold with its right-hand – an indispensable tool for making wood-block prints. The cat painted paint on a woodblock, put paper on top of it, and rubbed it hard with a balen for a while. But, the cat can no longer do its best. The cat shows in its attitudes: “moo-gan-ba-len (a shortcut for moo-gan-ba-le-nai)” meaning “Let me take a break.”

***
Ms. Risa has been holding clay cat production classes at various culture centers here and there for many years. She has finally decided to expand her activity to YouTube, and is now busily preparing for that.

We are aiming to open the course around Japanese Golden Week, at the end of April. In addition to Japanese people, it is also aimed at cat lovers from all over the world who want to attend the course. We plan to prepare textbooks in Japanese, English, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese (Simplified/Traditional), Russian, and French. Other languages may be considered. We are preparing to use attentive translations of these languages by human translators instead of Google’s automated translations.

In the online classroom, the basics begin with the creation of cats and how to use tools, and the level of difficulty increases systematically until students can create their own favorite cute cats. In addition, we plan to show tips on how to create various animals, insects around cats, and also small items such as stones and flowers. We will do our best to make the video as easy to understand as possible, so please stay tuned.

We will notify you again when the course starts.