Japanese artist Hajime Okamoto was born in Osaka in 1942. In the 1980s, he went on a cultural exchange program to the Jilin Province of China, and was greatly influenced by his time there. His works focus on calligraphy, painting and zen concepts. The most famous Kabamaru Series debuted in 1998.
The Kabamaru series features a group of playful cats, each having their own name and personality. Kabamaru, who gets featured twice in the tea cup set, is the leader of the group. Being a bit of a slow walker, he has a name that means "hippo" (kaba) and "round" (maru) in Japanese. Momoji is a silly boy with a charming face. Urume is a laid back tomboy. Sakon loves to play with all things that move, and he considers Kabamaru to be a brother.
Hajime Okamoto created his whimsical cat characters to the rhythm of jazz. "The beat rhythm of jazz music in the 1960s is really similar to the life of cats, which is slow and free," said the artist. "This thought made me try to draw cats living slowly in a busy human society, and that became the Kabamaru series."