See Gorgeous Maneki-Neko at the Lucky Cat Museum

Cincinnati’s Lucky Cat Museum is the only place in the country that publicly displays more than 2,000 maneki-neko, a type of Japanese cat figurine.

Photograph by Jeremy Kramer

Essex Studios in Walnut Hills hides the Lucky Cat Museum—the only place in America that publicly displays more than 2,000 maneki-neko, a type of Japanese cat figurine. “They are so happy and cheerful,” says Micha Robertson, who created the museum with her personal collection of maneki-neko. “You just can’t leave in a bad mood after seeing all these cute cats.” Inside the museum, the felines take on many forms, gracing everything from nail clippers to slot machines to piggy banks, standing roughly as tall as six feet or as small as a grain of rice. All the cats have one paw raised, a beckoning gesture said to bring good luck that is the defining feature of maneki-neko. Robertson began collecting two decades ago, after seeing maneki-neko in anime. She turned mostly to auction sites to feed her obsession, and in 2012, she opened the museum so others could enjoy her treasures. As for when she plans to quit collecting? When the cats available get boring, Robertson says. Looking around the museum, that doesn’t seem likely anytime soon.

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