KIRISHIMA, Kagoshima -- A hot spring resort with a prominent population of felines is proving popular among visitors to this southern Japan town.
Nestled in a mountainous area of Kirishima, the Myoken Onsen resort consists of 10 hotels, seven of which accommodate 17 cats.
An association of local hot spring inns is trying to promote the area as a "high cat density" resort, capitalizing on a recent cat boom in Japan. For the first time this month, it arranged an exhibition featuring about 100 cat photographs taken at the resort by seven professionals.
The feline face of Myoken Onsen Nemu hotel, where the exhibition is being held until the end of February, is the male cat Yuki. He was found in front of the hotel a year ago with a severed tail. After being nursed back to health, he became a local icon.
At Tajima Honkan hotel, there are two female felines: Tsubame and Suzume. An employee found Suzume with a broken diaphragm in 2017 and took her to a vet, giving her some loving care. Now both cats are regarded as part of the hotel "family," and are popular among guests.
According to the association promoting Myoken Onsen, people in the resort have taken good care of stray cats as they believe that domestic cats bring fortune. Certainly with the recent popularity the small resort has seen, this belief appears to be coming true.
(Japanese original by In Tanaka, Kagoshima Bureau)