Last fall I introduced you, in the blog post Made in Japan: Kawaii, to my love of vintage Japanese ceramics, especially those that have the cuteness factor known in Japan as "Kawaii". And while most of the pieces in my Kawaii collection are indeed ceramic, this little music box is a unique exception.
We've had a bit of fun around here trying to decide exactly what kinds of animals these two are. The conclusion was that they are a mouse and a cat, which sort of makes sense when you listen to the song this music box plays: You Light Up My Life.
Ah, yes - cat and mouse games; the cat in constant pursuit of the mouse, and the mouse always lucky to have repeated escapes from the cat. The phrase itself dates back to 1675 and the concept has been used in storytelling by the Brothers Grimm, Lewis Carroll, and more recently in Tom And Jerry cartoons.
You Light Up My Life was a hit song in 1977, written by Joseph Brooks, recorded by Kasey Cisyk for the movie of the same name, and a Top 40 radio version was sung by Debbie Boone. The chorus goes like this:
Light up my life
You give me hope
To carry on
You light up my days
And fill my nights
You light up my life
You light up my life
The pins, drum and vibration plate of this music box are still perfectly intact, playing the song in what sounds like its original rich volume. Even more exciting is the fact that the seat the mouse is sitting upon actually swings as the music plays! See the little hole in the seat of the swing to the left of the mouse? A small pin rises up out of the interior of the casing and sits within that hole, and part of the wind-up mechanism moves the swing back and forth. Which leads us to this question: is the cat pushing the mouse in the swing, or is the mouse happily swinging alone, unaware of the presence of the cat behind it?
Even though the song this music box plays is considered by many to be extremely tacky, it could be said that the happy melody and words fit the mood of the two cute creatures, who perhaps have forgotten the roles mother nature has assigned to them, at least for the moment. I'd like to think that these cuties are actually friends, but... the final outcome of the game they are playing out has me on the edge of my seat! Does the mouse, with its back turned, know the cat is there, and if so, why does it seem to trust the cat? Will they both keep happily playing together, as long as the music plays? Or will the cat finally pounce on the mouse?
Whatever the case may be, perhaps you'll agree that this is one very "Kawaii" vintage Made In Japan music box!