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Cat’s Eye View: Looking at Japan From a Different Angle

Explore this Japanese city through the eyes of the cats that live there.

Maybe you’ve seen Japan, but have you seen Japan through the eyes of a cat? A new website launched by a Japanese tourism board is offering a virtual tour of Onomichi guided by its furrier residents.

Launched earlier this month, Cat Street View has been taking the Internet by storm. Part of the Hiroshima Pefecture Tourism Division’s “Look! Eat! Drink!” campaign, the website allows users to explore the port city of Onomichi, located 70 kilometers east from Hiroshima. The app works just like Google Street View, only instead of the Google car, you are following the footsteps of a Japanese cat and viewing the world from its perspective.

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As you’re exploring the market, you’ll come across other cats with little orange icons above their heads. That means you’ve found one of the website’s 11 featured cats. When you click the icon, you’ll be able to find more pictures of the cat and its owners, as well as some more information about them. Unfortunately, there is no application for translating the Japanese info-bubbles into English.

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You’ll also find little video icons that will let you watch videos recorded by cameras attached to the cats, and more informational icons highlighting the local businesses in the market. In addition to the cats, the website highlights 28 shops and seven landmarks. There are plans to expand the map in the future.

Onomichi is a small port city in the Hiroshima prefecture known as the city of slopes, temples, and cats. The city is also known for its quaint passageways, including one named Cat Alley, which is filled with art dedicated to the city’s feline citizens.

It’s not that surprising that the tourism board has chosen to highlight this attraction through the cats that know the city best. According to a representative for the Tourism Division, “[They] thought cats must know the hidden charm of Onomichi because Onomichi has many narrow paths. Therefore, we want people to realize the appeal of this city through cats’ eyes.”

Promoting the city from this unique purrspective is a fantastic tourism move that’s got the whole Internet daydreaming of setting off to Onomichi to meet the locals that rule the streets.

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(Photo: Hiroshima Prefecture)

By Jamie Ditaranto

Jamie Ditaranto is a traveler in a love triangle with writing and photography. Follow the drama on Twitter @jamieditaranto and Instagram @jamieditaranto.

Ditaranto joined SmarterTravel in 2015. She loves ecotourism, cities with history, and discovering local hangouts. Though she likes all the continents equally, she holds a special place in her heart for rainy little islands.

Her work has also appeared online at USA Today, Huffington Post, Business Insider, and other publications. You can check out her photography on her website.

The Handy Item I Always Pack: "My instant camera comes in handy for giving instant gifts to new friends."

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