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Feline 'manager' of struggling stationery store in Japan gets fan mail amid pandemic

Shimako, the feline "manager" of the stationery store Mannendo in the city of Komoro, Nagano Prefecture, is seen on June 4, 2020. (Mainichi/Mari Sakane)

KOMORO, Nagano -- The cat "manager" of a stationery store in this central Japan city has received an encouraging letter from a fan across the country, as the shop continues to struggle with a decline in customers as a result of the new coronavirus pandemic.

Shimako, an 8-year-old female, "manages" the stationery store Mannendo in Komoro. The letter of support from a fan living in Kobe, a city in the western Japan prefecture of Hyogo, reads, "I was fascinated by your loveliness when I came upon pictures of you on Twitter at a time when society can be a bit ungenial due to the spread of the novel coronavirus. Someday, I hope to visit the shop to meet you and to go on a shopping spree for stationery goods. Until then, please don't suddenly run out onto the road and stay healthy."

A female guardian of Shimako at the store said, "The fan letter has been encouraging." Shimako has been living at the store since she was found strolling down the middle of a road in 2011 as a kitten.

Shimako is in charge of promoting new products on Twitter. She is loved far and wide, with some fans from distant Yamaguchi Prefecture, in western Japan, and Gifu Prefecture, in central Japan, coming to visit. The "manager" has a calm, friendly demeanor and doesn't get ruffled when strangers touch her.

(Japanese original by Mari Sakane, Nagano Bureau)

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