• Kyodo

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A hostel attached to a rescue cat cafe in Osaka Prefecture allows guests to fall asleep while gazing at cats, offering a haven for those wishing to escape from reality amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The hostel, known as Neko Hatago, opened last December as an annex to the cat cafe Neko Yokujo. With eight dormitory rooms modeled after lodging for travelers in the pre-modern Edo Period (1603-1868), guests can watch cats from the cafe through a window installed by each bedside.

“I want people to learn more about rescue cats, including how they behave at night,” said Naomi Nishikubo, the 52-year-old manager of the establishment.

Due to the pandemic, only one party per day is able to stay at the hostel, but an increase in stays by local residents has been noted. | KYODO
Due to the pandemic, only one party per day is able to stay at the hostel, but an increase in stays by local residents has been noted. | KYODO

Meowing can be heard even after the curtain closes at 10 p.m., and the cats get up close and personal on the other side of the glass. Guests can also try their hand at cleaning and feeding the cats before and after the cafe’s opening hours.

Operated by Neco Republic Inc., a Gifu-based company which aims to bring cat euthanization down to zero, the cafe also works with local groups to find new owners for rescue cats. So far, 16 have been rehomed.

While the hostel had many foreign travelers before the pandemic, guest numbers have now fallen to half or less. But the hostel has seen an increase in stays by nearby residents, with some finding the establishment by accident while going for a walk.

Due to measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, currently only one party can stay per day. Reservations can be made on the official website of the hostel, which also plans to sell vouchers that can be used for future accommodation.

“I don’t know what will happen from now on, but I hope people come and visit our energetic cats,” said Nishikubo.

In line with COVID-19 guidelines, the government is strongly requesting that residents and visitors exercise caution if they choose to visit bars, restaurants, music venues and other public spaces.

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