A Digital Cat Is Melting Hearts (and Napping a Lot) in Japan
The calico prances and dozes on a 26-by-62-foot LED billboard in Tokyo. It has drawn crowds in real life and sparked joy on social media. From a report: Ryoko Kikuchi was strolling home from a Tokyo movie theater when she saw a cat the size of a yacht strutting high above the sidewalk, coyly licking its paws. “The way it was meowing was too cute to bear,” she said. A lot of people in Tokyo feel the same way, no matter that the cat is just a bunch of pixels on a billboard. The 4K display does not officially “open” until Monday, but it has already drawn socially distanced crowds — and inspired many social media posts — since its installation last month. The digital calico behaves a bit like an actual cat, in the sense that it does whatever it pleases. Visitors are only treated to a few brief appearances per hour, in between a stream of advertisements and music videos.

The cat yawns here and there, and at 1 a.m. it drops off to sleep for about six hours, resting its head on white paws that hug the side of what appears to be an open-air perch near the Shinjuku subway station. (The three-dimensional look is an illusion created by a curved, 26-by-62-foot LED screen.) It also talks, greeting pedestrians with “nyannichiwa.” That is a blend of “konnichiwa,” or hello, and “nyan,” Japanese for “meow.”

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