Japanese Cat Baskets

omg that’s cute

Someone help me, I’m obsessed with Japanese cat baskets (稚座 or neko chigura).  Like all traditional Japanese crafts, they are functional and stunningly beautiful.

Mrs. Root Simple and I want to learn basket weaving just to make one of these things. Woven out of rice stalks, there are, thank you for asking, Youtube videos showing how they are made:

And, yes, you can watch cute videos showing their use–say goodbye to office productivity today!

According to Modern Cat (I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit I read that blog) these things aren’t available in the US, though you can admire this Japanese website that sells them. Guess we will have to make our own.

Note from Kelly:  Say we make one of these…100 hours and 1000 curses later, won’t our kitties promptly adopt their new 稚座 as a scratching post? The Japanese must have figured this out. Back to the  research!

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  1. Basket weaving is surprisingly not hard – I made my first over two weeks and my second over a weekend. The book I used is Basketry by BJ Crawford… it has really helpful process photos and descriptions. I think it’s helpful to try it with reed first before trying other plants, because reed seems to be made for basket weaving and it’s helpful to get your fingers into those motions before you start cursing all the grass on your property.

    Here was my first basket. Not hideously ugly or anything:

    • I should add, I made it over two weeks with a baby and a toddler in the house who take 99% of my time, so you could probably make one in three hours.

    • Leah, your first basket is beautiful!

      I don’t like to promote “can’t mythologies” ie “I can’t draw” “I can’t grow plants” etc.– but I’ve gotta say I know I’m no natural basket weaver. I took a primitive-skills style basket weaving class and made a really sad specimen of a burden basket (albiet under some rough outdoor conditions). Then I showed my crafty friend the basics, and she instantly whipped up a darling, perfect basket, though she’d never woven before. And my second try was no better than my first. (sigh) Soooo I know that I’ll need lots of practice to get proficient, whereas I think you and my crafty friend are clever-fingered people.

      Which is not to say that Erik and I will not attempt the cat basket, because we’re masochists that way.

    • Ha! I hear lots of clamps or clothespins really help get the right shape going. You probably didn’t have those in the wilderness.

  2. Potentially scaled down, those would be great for rabbits, too. (My house rabbit likes to hide and eat everything I put in her condo.)

  3. Mrs. Homegrown,
    About the can’t mythology–I have never seen a home or commercial, antique or new sewing machine I could not learn to thread and use, including the one with sixteen spools of thread and two blades that will cut off fingertips. So, when I could not master one sewing machine, I “practiced” 8 hours each week for TWO YEARS on other people’s clothing and cut holes in all the hems of tshirts. So, that is one “can’t mythology” that is now fact. I learned to cane a chair perfectly the first time. However, there were others who tried and tried and made hideous mistakes. Sometimes, a person just has to let a thing go or settle for mistakes. Since you know how to do this, maybe you can get it right the second time. If not, just make crappy baskets and love them. Maybe Mr. can be the basket weaver…lol.

    You two could make a video for us to follow.

  4. Pingback: Neko Chigura – the Japanese rice straw cat basket! | The Paris Cat

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