I know this hashioki is an example of fine art, because I purchased it in the gift shop of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, which has one of the finest collections of Japanese art in the United States. And the Boston Museum of Fine Arts wouldn’t sell anything other than fine art, right?
It is a pudgy but cute example of a giant panda bear.
The giant panda, usually simply called panda, are native to south central China. They were once classified an endangered species in wild, but thanks to successful breeding and release programs into the wild in China they have now been upgraded to merely vulnerable. They look huggable, but since an adult panda can weigh up to 300 lbs. they are probably not good for cuddling.
Pandas are one of everyone’s favorite exhibits at zoos. In the United States you can see them at the National Zoo in Washington D.C. and the San Diego Zoo, and occasionally other zoos. There are also pandas on display at 3 zoos in Japan, including the Ueno Park Zoo. The pair of pandas at the Ueno Zoo may have mated this spring. If they produce 1 or 2 offspring, there will undoubtedly be an explosion of panda hashioki in Japan next year.