As part of an initiative launched in July, the tourism board of Hiroshima Prefecture has invented an all-new way to attract visitors to Onomichi City, and it's right up the sterotypical "Internet's" alley: cats. According to pop culture and other made up polls, some 89% of us will stop, drop, and cough up hairballs when the interwebs bring anything feline to the table, whether we want to watch kitties or just be like them. Onomichi heard your meows and launched Cat Street View to showcase the prefecture's hidden corners and less well-known appeals as told by one of the city's most prominent citizens.
“We were seeking to introduce a different way to look at our cities and offer a view of the streets that wasn’t available before,” a Hiroshima tourism official explains to the Wall Street Journal. "You can enjoy and experience the hidden charms of the backstreets and the scenery of Hiroshima from the perspective of cats which know them well."
The tool, which uses 360-degree cameras similar to those found on Google Maps, currently includes only two areas, both in the city of Onomichi, which is known for its cat population. It also has a selection of 11 pet cats kept in the area with links to their backgrounds.
The shopping arcade guides the viewer through a busy commercial section and introduces them to "poster cats" in the neighborhood — friendly cats used by stores to lure customers in. The Narrow Cat Road takes viewers on a trip between Ushitora Shrine and Tennei Temple along a pathway frequented by cats (which sometimes moves onto the fence, as cats are known to do). Your guide, a poster cat named Lala, points you to landmarks along the way, like a museum of maneki neko (cat statues used to beckon customers into businesses) and a parking lot where cats like to gather.
The tourist board has said it will add more maps in October, including cat's-eye views of Kubo and the Misode Tenman Shrine area. During the entire month of September, the MoCHA cat cafe in Shibuya, Tokyo will showcase the Hiroshima Cat Street View in a corner along with pictures of Onomichi's poster cats and a limited amount of Hiroshima lemon soda to help customers get frisky-fresh.