Located in Izu City, Shizuoka Prefecture, Koibito Misaki ("Lover's Cape") commands a panoramic view of Suruga Bay and Mount Fuji. True to its name, the cape is a highly popular tourist spot for couples. The famous "cat manager" lives in Stera House, a souvenir shop operating in this sacred place for lovers.
Meet Chibi Nyan
The name of the male "cat manager" is Chibi Nyan. "Chibi" can be loosely translated as "little," and "nyan" is the Japanese onomatopoeia of a cat's meow. His predecessor Love Nyan served as the shop's manager for more than 10 years. When he passed away in 2022, Chibi Nyan officially became the second manager of Stera House this fall after some on-the-job training. But Chibi Nyan is still very young and mischievous.
As a photographer for The Sankei Shimbun and the person in charge of all things feline, I made my way to Stera House to meet Chibi Nyan.
Because of Chibi Nyan's aversion to reporters, I initially struggled to get a good shot. But after numerous visits, I finally managed to capture him against the backdrop of Mount Fuji. At that moment, our hearts connected — or at least that's how I felt. This photo will be on the cover of the 2024 edition of the 'Nekodokoro' ("cat places") calendar.
The cat-loving staff members of the souvenir shop Stera House, including Ms Natsuko Hachiya, are all Chibi Nyan's "subordinates." Thanks to them, Chibi Nyan is well taken care of, and he spends his days without a care in the world. Chibi Nyan is the kind of cat that makes driving more than 100 kilometers (62 mi) to meet him feel like no trouble at all.
The 2024 version of the 'Nekodokoro' calendar, which enjoys high popularity every year, is now available. The calendar features cats with their distinct and charming personalities in various parts of Japan.
The full-color, 28-page calendar covers 13 months from December 2023. It is a page-a-month calendar with 13 photographs. Each double-page spread is in A3 size (A4 when closed). The price is ¥1,000 JPY (around $7 USD) per copy, excluding postage.
Purchases made through Sankei iD will receive a special postcard featuring a cat photo, although the specific photo cannot be chosen. This offer is available while supplies last, so don't miss out.
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(Read the article in Japanese.)
Author: Shuji Ozaki