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What's the inspiration behind Japanese shopping site's 'infinite cat-making machine'?

A child creates a cat made of sand with an "infinite cat-making machine." (Photo courtesy of H Concept Corp.)

TOKYO -- Everyone seems to be looking for healing these days, and perhaps that is what's driving the cat boom unfolding worldwide. Even if for some reason you can't get a cat, you might find comfort in "World Cats Travelogue," a TV show on public broadcaster NHK featuring footage taken by animal photographer Mitsuaki Iwago of cats on streets around the world.

    I certainly find comfort in it, and that led me to a mysterious online discovery: something called the "infinite cat-making machine." It seemed popular, with healthy sales. But what was it? I decided to ask the person behind the thing.

    A child puts sand into an "infinite cat-making machine" in a sandbox. (Photo courtesy of H Concept Corp.)

    I found the infinite cat-making machine on Belle Maison Net, an online shopping site operated by Senshukai Co. The riddle of the product's name was soon solved by a photo on the website: A child filling a cat-shaped cup with sand in a sandbox, "making" an endless supply of cats. It looked like you could churn out whole herds of white and black cats with this. I wished I'd had one when I was a kid.

    According to the manufacturer, H Concept Corp., the "cat cup" as it is officially called, went on sale in July 2019. It became a hot topic on social media, and has been a popular product at their stores ever since. According to Senshukai, "it has been available on Belle Maison Net since around last fall, and while sales were unremarkable at first, it sold out suddenly on April 7 when it became a hot topic on Twitter."

    It was designed by Yuka Morii, a three-dimensional sculptor and goods collector who also specializes in clay creations. She commented on the site, "The power of cats is great. Just by being there, they create an air of serenity. I like the way they lie on the street, and I created it (the cat cup) with my inner passion for 'the visual cat ideal,' cherishing the image of a cat that suddenly comes into view, but is a little bit distant."

    A child gently lifts off an "infinite cat-making machine" to reveal a cat made of sand. (Photo courtesy of H Concept Corp.)

    Indeed, no matter who you are or how you look at it, this is a cat. The shape may be simple, but it is hard to make without a mold.

    Morii continued, "The silhouette is a little different from a cat's real proportions, but anyone can easily recognize it as a cat at a glance. This is a product that allows anyone to become a sculptor on the beach or in a sandbox, so I hope people will enjoy making cats and playing with the mold somewhere with a lot of space. Please enjoy how the atmosphere of the cat changes depending on the type of sand used and the passage of time."

    I like the idea that anyone can be a sculptor. If you planned it, you might be able to make a red tabby cat.

    The "infinite cat-making machine" can also be used for interior decoration. (Photo courtesy of H Concept Corp.)

    Sales of cat goods are booming, but the idea that you can make a cat surprised me. Even people who don't like cats will likely forgive a sand-made cat.

    The product is available at Belle Maison Net (https://www.bellemaison.jp/), the manufacturer's online store "Koncent" (https://koncent.jp/), and interior design stores nationwide.

    (Japanese original by Masakazu Yui, Digital News Center)

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