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Tourism, Traditional & Culture

Japan Celebrates Cat Day with Top Hotel Mascot Cat Ranking

It’s cat day in Japan! Because in Japan cats run the show, from train stations to hotel front desks.

Cat Day in Japan

February 22nd is Cat Day in Japan, thanks largely to the country’s love for corny wordplay. The entire holiday evolved from the fact that in Japanese “2/22” is an abbreviation for “nyan nyan nyan,” or as an English-speaking cat might say, “meow meow meow.” Even Japanese speakers know this is pushing it, but if there’s an opportunity to take a meow-ment and celebrate cats’ hiss-terical antics, Japan isn’t about to miss out on that paw-ty. Aside from individual pet owners taking advantage of the day to spoil their kitties, these days the yearly event is mostly an excuse for shops to sell cat-themed products and the like, but this year travel booking site Rakuten Travel decided it was about time we decided something very important: the very best hotel cat mascot in Japan.

And the Winner Is…? Japan’s Favorite Hotel Mascot Cat

When you see a working cat in Japan, they’re probably not there to catch mice. These days it’s become a bit of a trend for facilities around Japan to adopt a cat as their own mascot, letting their feline friends lounge around the premises and occasionally pose for photos in silly costumes. Sometimes these cats make the news, like Tama or Bus, who both become honorary stationmasters at small Japanese train stations. Sometimes they compete for fame, like the cats who report daily for work at hotels, inns, and traditional accommodations around Japan. As a little bit of Cat Day entertainment, Rakuten Travel now conducts a yearly survey that allows netizens to vote for their favorite feline hotel employee, featuring hotel mascot cats plying their trade in accommodations throughout Japan. And with thousands of votes taken into consideration, the results are finally out.

Image Source: Mainichi

For the year 2024, Japan’s #1 hotel mascot cat is none other than Omochi, a grey and white tomcat who spends his days lazing about Aratama Ryokan and its steaming hot spring baths in the little onsen town of Beppu, Oita. According to ryokan guests, Omochi seems to be a very dependable cat who knows he has a job to do, and he often opens doors throughout the building. In second place we find two cats, one of which is Amanatsu, named for a local variety of citrus fruit, and just as sweet as her name suggests. Surprisingly, Amanatsu is actually Omochi’s neighbor, earning her keep at Kannawa Yunoka in Kannawa Onsen – another area of Beppu. It seems like this little tuxedo kitten still has a lot to learn from her local “senpai,” but she’s already charming inn guests with her relaxed cuteness. Tied for second place is Shosuke, a born leader who now works as “head cat” at Kiriya Ryokan, an onsen ryokan in Nozawa Onsen, Nagano. It seems like Shosuke takes his work seriously, actively checking in on guests by visiting their rooms, and occasionally joining in on guests’ afternoon naps. Truly a hard worker.

With cats finding work as adorable mascots at accommodations all around Japan, Omochi, Amanatsu, and Shosuke might have some tough competition in next year’s competition. So make the most of cat day this year, and don’t forget to take some time and celebrate the cats in your neighborhood, whether their job entails working the hotel check-in desk or just kneading all day at the biscuit factory.

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Information Source: The Mainichi

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