Editor’s note: This story was originally printed in Northwest Asian Weekly on Dec. 11, 1993. This article will reference the year of the dog, plug stores that now exist in our memories, and remind us that TV sets and stereos were hot items in the early 90s. We hope that our readers will get a kick from this holiday blast from the past.
Northwest Asian Weekly
Once during the Edo period, according to Japanese lore, there was an ancient priest who lived with his beloved cats in an old temple. One day he said to his pets, “If only you could bring better days.”
A short time later, one of his cats heard a samurai lord coming up the road. The animal ran to the temple gate and raised a paw in a gesture of greeting and beckoning.
The lord of the troop was amused and decided to spend the night at the temple, at which time he was so impressed with the priest’s kindness that he became a patron.
The lord was generous and the temple benefited greatly from his patronage.
Since then, figurines of a beckoning cat, or maneki-neko, have been regarded as a symbol of good luck that attracts prosperity wherever displayed.
Chance are, you’ve got someone on your Christmas or Hanukkah list to whom you’d wish good fortune. Take yourself to Uwajimaya in the International District and pick up a maneki-neko.
That’s just the beginning of some of the offerings at Uwajimaya. There are woks, chopsticks, year of the dog calendars, celadon dishware and all the food you need to prepare that special dish during this holiday season.
What if that person on your list has everything? Uwajimaya also sells two metal-like exercise balls.
A sign boasts that the balls will stimulate acupuncture points on the hand, relieve fatigue and stress, invigorate blood circulation, promote physical well-being and keep the mind sober and healthy.
All for a reasonable price.
That’s just the beginning of the gift-giving riches that can be found in businesses of the International District.
Chinatown also has gifts to feed the brain and stimulate the ear.
Gold Medal Gifts and Magazines, at Seventh Avenue South and South Weller Street, has videos, tapes and magazines in Chinese. There are other shops in the International District that offer “funkier” items for those on a tight budget.
The Kong Sun Gift Shop Co. (recently closed Thanksgiving 2008) sells bumbershoots for $3.70 and bamboo flutes for $1.85. You can find notebooks, figurines, calendars, lucky candy, cups, bowls, candle holders and red Chinese lanterns.
If you can’t find a gift there, march on over to the Modern Trading Co. Wholesale & Retail at Jackson Street and Maynard Avenue.
You’ll find an assortment of electronic goodies at this store where high-tech rice cookers compete with televisions and stereos for customer attention.
Still racking your brain for a present? Why not give a gift they’ll use year-round, which may also benefit the community.
The Wing Luke Asian Museum, at 407 Seventh Avenue South, has holiday gift memberships that range in price from $20 to $500.
If you know someone who’s mad about theater, buy a subscription package from the Northwest Asian American Theatre. Prices range from $6 to $60.
The theatre is adjacent to the Wing Luke Asian Museum and is devoted to entertaining and teaching people about the Asian American experience.
A very special idea for the holiday season is filial piety. But how can you buy that?
Well, Kin On Nursing Home is moving on to the next stage of development in building a permanent home for its residents.
The land has been purchased, the architects have been hired and the plans are drawn up. The next stage of fund raising has to happen now, so that the construction can begin.
This holiday season, you can make a donation to Kin On’s building fund in the name of a loved one. It’s a great honor and anyone would feel proud to be a part of making Kin On’s permanent home a reality. ♦
We’ll be running old articles from our archives the whole month of December. Look for one next week.