Mount Fuji turns to gold to entice investors
TOKYO (Reuters Life!) - Fancy some good luck in the new year? It'll cost you about $132,000 and comes in the form of a pure gold, diminutive replica of Japan's iconic Mount Fuji.
Made of 3 kg (6.6 lbs) of gold, the 6 cm (2.3 inch) high reproduction of Japan's sacred dormant volcano was made by jewelers Tanaka Kikinzoku and put on display on Tuesday, the day before it goes on sale in Tokyo.
And despite the steep price tag, which comes as Japan's economy tries to stave off another slide into recession, the upmarket jeweler believes there will be buyers.
"We tried to make something that can be enjoyed as an art work as well as a valuable asset with this golden Mount Fuji. It is also a subject that has a special meaning to Japanese people," Naoto Mizuki, general manager of the Ginza-based company told Reuters.
Mount Fuji, at 3,776 meters (12,388 ft) is Japan's highest mountain. It is believed to be sacred and is seen as a symbol of good luck, especially for the New Year period.
Mizuki said he believed the gold mountain would also hold a special appeal for investors looking to put their money into safe-haven commodities after plunges on the stock market and in real estate.
"The price of gold is rising dramatically, and the economic crisis forces capital to move from paper assets, which are losing their charm, to material assets," Mizuki said.
Gold prices hit a record high of $1,226.10 per ounce earlier this month.
Mizuki said the design costs of the replica were kept down to about 15 percent of total costs -- a marginal amount compared to the usual 50 percent designers' fees -- to increase the product's investment appeal.
Tanaka Kikinzoku has two Mount Fuji's in stock and more will be made as orders are received.
(Reporting by Huyn Oh, editing by Miral Fahmy)
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