It’s an amazing age we live in, where you can fire up Google Street View and virtually walk the boulevards of many of the world’s cities. But it turns out Google Street View has a bit of a rival in Japan. Granted, its scope is far smaller than Google’s, given that it only covers part of one town, but it shows up the Internet giant by letting you wander its walkways from the perspective of an alley cat, and even provides profiles of all the neighborhood kitties you’ll meet along the way!
There’s plenty to see and do in Hiroshima Prefecture, whether you’re a fan of delicious desserts, Studio Ghibli anime, or beautiful bike rides. But if it’s cats you can’t resist, you’ll want to take a trip to the port town of Onomichi.
The town starts at the waterfront and climbs steeply into the nearby hills, which are crisscrossed by walking paths. As you stroll about, you’ll come across plenty of temples and cafes, and also the many cats that inhabit the town, either as pets or strays. As a matter of fact, Onomichi is home to so many cats, Hiroshima’s tourist board decided that instead of a normal street view, the town should a Cat Street View program.
So what makes the Cat Street View unique? First, there’s the low-angle position of the camera, which produces a feline feeling. Some of the routes, too, aren’t the sort that those clumsy, bipedal humans could handle.
But even better, when you come across one of Onomichi’s resident cats, an icon will appear.
Click on it, and you’ll be given more information about that particular kitty, as demonstrated here for seven-year-old Lala.
You’ll want to keep your speakers turned on while playing around with Cat Street View, too, and not just because your ears be greeted by the relaxing sounds of the city and its natural spaces. Some on Onomichi’s cats are shyer than others, so not all of them get right up in the camera. If there’s one in the section of the map where you currently are, though, you’ll hear it adorably meowing, and that’s your cue to click and drag the image to rotate your perspective and play a little feline hide-and-seek.
▼ Found you!
Aside from the cat profile icons, there are also spots to click for more information on local shops and sightseeing attractions.
The best discovery, though, is the play button icons that you can click to watch short video clips of the cats.
Currently, Cat Street View allows you to tour two sections of Onomichi, the covered shopping arcade and the Neko no Hosomichi hillside. To switch between them, click on the button marked Main Map (全体マップ), and then select the area from the map that appears.
▼ Main Map button marked in yellow
In the future, more neighborhoods are scheduled to be added, including the town’s Misodetenmangu Shrine.
You can start your online kitty photo safari on the Cat Street View website here. For pure navigational purposes, a cat’s eye-view may not be as useful as a bird’s eye, but it’s definitely a lot cuter.