Centuries-old earthenware plate gets a special assist from a kitty in becoming an ultra-rare, ultra-cute antique.

One of the very first things I bought when I moved to Japan was a coffee mug, which cost me only 100 yen (US$0.93). More than a decade later, I still use it every day, which is a testament to the high-quality products retailers have to provide in order to satisfy shoppers in Japan.

I can’t imagine feudal warlords of the samurai era were any less forgiving of sloppy craftsmanship than Japanese consumers are today. However, it seems that someone who lived inside of Yuzuki Castle, in present-day Ehime Prefecture, was willing to overlook a flaw in this earthenware plate, and a pretty big one at that, because it was also adorable.

While the design of the plate, spotted by Japanese Twitter user @R_Perokun, was meant to be simple and unadorned, it looks like during the production process a kitty stepped right into the unhardened dish. The craftsman either didn’t notice the pawprint or decided to let it slide, and the plate’s eventual owner apparently didn’t mind one bit.

Yuzuki Castle was destroyed in 1585, but the plate was found unbroken during excavations of the site. That implies that it wasn’t tossed in the trash as a defective piece of kitchenware, but lovingly used or displayed, and most likely by someone of fairly lofty status, since it was found within the castle grounds, not outside its walls in the areas where the commoners lived.

“Cats have been doing whatever they want to since the olden days.”

“It’s like a kind of fossil now “This should be designated a national treasure.”

“So even in that era some people had a playful side.”

“I can totally imagine the potter seeing what the kitty did and being all ‘Cats are sooooo cute.’”

It just goes to show that Japan has always had a soft spot for cats.

▼ And now I’m sort of sad no cute animals stepped into the clay for my 100-yen mug.

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Follow Casey on Twitter, where the results are far less disastrous than his high school ceramics class projects.

Source: Hamster Sokuho, Twitter/@R_Perokun