High on a shelf in what used to be my sister’s bedroom is a huge, over-sized goldfish bowl. It has never contained any fish but instead dozens and dozens of matchbooks that my father collected, back from when it was usual for restaurants and hotels to have their own branded versions. When I was around 7 or 8, I had a shoe box that I’d filled with dead moths.
Collecting things is a curious pastime to me. There are people that have collections of one particular thing that they’ll add to devotedly, while others collect various things with no single focus. Some people collect stamps, postcards or coins; some people keep hold of ticket stubs or restaurant napkins.
At present this hobby is one that I partake in rather erratically. I more often than not wait for things to come to me rather than intently seeking them out. My room is filled with knick knacks and fun objects that I’ve accumulated from various people and places. All of them are special to me in some way or other, and in this post I wanted to feature a few of my favourite objects that fit into what I call my “Asian Paraphernalia Collection”. These are all items that have come directly to me from an Asian country and they each have their own little stories.
My grandfather used to hold a high position in the local government and with that position came various meet and greets with different international visitors. On one occasion some officials came to visit from sister city Kakogawa, Japan. As was usual, my grandfather was presented with gifts; one of which was this cute little pair of Japanese cats in traditional dress. He recently gifted them to me, aware of my Japanese obsession. I love the little gold details and happy regal-looking cat faces!
Another happy cat face! This amazingly sweet little cat purse was gifted to me not so long ago by my lovely friend Amber, who writes the awesome Code For Something. Amber went on a trip to China and brought wee chap back for me. I lost him for a few weeks, but he showed up again and now has pride of place next to the other happy cats.
While technically not directly from an Asian country to my hands, this paper crane still holds a special place in my collection. Earlier this year in March, my boyfriend and I went out for dinner at Fuji, an excellent Japanese Teppanyaki restaurant in Auckland. We were celebrating having been together for a year and we were the only two people in the restaurant. The charming lady bringing us our drinks told us a lot about Japan in the summer and drinking beer on rooftops and at the end of our conversation, she made this paper crane for me. I was thrilled.
Last year my boyfriend spent 6 months visiting various European countries as well as Russia, Morocco and China. He was away for my birthday but managed to have a package delivered to me containing a delightful array of little gifty things. This Hello Kitty pencil topper was one of them. It’s from Hong Kong, and I think it might even glow in the dark.
At the end of his 6 months away, Leon came back with even more gifts for me. This adorable plush panda is one of my favourites, though in a similar way to the cat purse, it has a habit of disappearing. It’s most recent hiding place was under my bed.
I think it was in cahoots with the rogue Pez dispenser under there.