Tabineko is an award winning series of prints, postcards and calendars depicting the adventures of two traveling cats in Japan. They wander around the most beautiful and picturesque landscapes across all four seasons, take in the sights and make new friends along the way. Tabineko literally translates to ‘traveling cat’.

Their creator is Toshinori Mori, a 60+ year old freelance illustrator who lives in Nagaoka City and has his 260 sqft studio set up on the second floor of his home. In an exclusive interview with A’ Design Award and Competitions he says his primary workspace is basically a long desk set up in front of the main window comprising of 2 Macs, 2 monitors and his audiophile hi-fi system. He gets a lot of his inspiration from cycling and a lot of the scenes in his artwork are from the perspective of a cyclist. The calico you see in Tabineko is modelled after his own 10 year old tabby cat Guri.

When asked about the influence of his surroundings on his work, he answered:
I live in Nagaoka City, one of the most heavy snowfall areas in Japan and is the largest rice producing area in Japan (Koshihikari). It is also the region with the most sake breweries in Japan. In other words, nature is rich, the four seasons are clear, the rice field landscape is wide, and there are quaint sake breweries here and there. I often see landscapes of paddy fields, satoyama plants, old sake breweries, etc. in my illustrations of Tabinneko. The landscape of this area has been very influential. The advantage of living here is that if you ride a little bike, there is a satoyama blessed with rich nature. It’s a motif for my illustration and it’s a peace of mind.’

Although he has not cited Kawase Hasui as an influence, his work does remind me of the legendary and enduring shin-hanga artist. Hasui really travelled Japan extensively in the early 1900s to give us an amazing legacy of large scale landscapes showcasing the natural beauty of Japan. Like him, Mori does not always use the actual color of nature in his works, rather, they choose colors that evoke a more emotional and idealized feeling in the audience.

You can purchase from the Tabineko Etsy store here and check out their official Instagram and website as well.

Tabineko is also featured in our 2021 gift guide, check it our here!

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