A superstitious person would say that the sudden appearance of a black cat on your doorstep is a bad omen, but the opposite is true for Japan’s Hiroshima Onomichi City Museum of Art.
When the curious feline first appeared at the museum two years ago in the summer of 2016, the only thing it brought was good publicity.
— むくすけ (@mukusuke) June 26, 2016
It was only days after the museum’s opening of Cats — Mitsuaki Iwago Photography Exhibition that the building’s security guard had a charming standoff with a black cat named Ken-chan, who belongs to the owners of a nearby restaurant. The standoff was caught on camera and promptly posted to social media. A serendipitous and lighthearted exchange, the cat’s arrival proved just how eager the aristocat was to sample some high culture.
But then the cat came back the very next day. And the day after, too.
映像『入られんよ。can’t come in. 』（H301109）スタッフ撮影の美術館周辺の猫スナップをご紹介。（spin off 2018、不定期配信） #尾道 #千光寺公園 #尾道市立美術館 #猫 #黒猫 #cat #onomichi pic.twitter.com/DweFZTC8nF
— 尾道市立美術館 (@bijutsu1) November 9, 2018
“I’m guessing that Ken-chan spotted some of the exhibits through the glass, and since the photos included those of black cats, he must have thought he had found a new friend,” the museum’s curator, Shinji Umebayashi, told The Guardian. “And then he just kept coming back.”
Word of mouth must travel fast through Japan’s cat community. Eventually, Ken-chan started turning up with a ginger cat, which museum staff affectionately named Go-chan.
Last month, the museum posted a video on its Twitter feed showing Ken-chan attempt some trickery to pass the security guard. He waits for the automatic doors to begin closing before attempting to dart through, but the guard catches the king of the forest just in time.
映像『フェイント feint 』（H300930）スタッフ撮影の美術館周辺の猫スナップをご紹介。（spin off 2018、不定期配信）＊本日(10/1))は月曜日休館です。 #尾道 #千光寺公園 #尾道市立美術館 #猫 #黒猫 #cat #onomichi pic.twitter.com/tBQHnY50Ck
— 尾道市立美術館 (@bijutsu1) September 30, 2018
Such exchanges have gone viral. The museum, which now has over 46,000 Twitter followers, has also launched a range of souvenirs featuring the two cats as unofficial mascots. Online, the two cats and security guard have even inspired fan art.
— 木村 瞳 (@atelierkido) November 11, 2018
Umebayashi tells The Guardian that the cats are still seen on the museum’s premises most days. “The museum is in a park so there’s no traffic to worry about,” he said. “They treat the park like it’s their own garden.” And despite both being male, the two cats are sweet to each other.
『タータン tartan collar 』（H301109）スタッフ撮影の美術館周辺の猫スナップをご紹介。（spin off 2018、不定期配信） #尾道 #千光寺公園 #尾道市立美術館 #猫 #黒猫 #cat #onomichi pic.twitter.com/iHjkt5fdv6
— 尾道市立美術館 (@bijutsu1) November 14, 2018
『青空 blue sky 』（H301111）スタッフ撮影の美術館周辺の猫スナップをご紹介。（spin off 2018、不定期配信） #尾道 #千光寺公園 #尾道市立美術館 #猫 #茶トラ #cat #onomichi pic.twitter.com/7l6YBYAnXs
— 尾道市立美術館 (@bijutsu1) November 11, 2018
Cute!! I love the cartoon!
When more cats go into the museums than humans… Humans are domed!
I don’t understand why they don’t just let the cats in. They are adult cats, unlikely to make a mess inside and it would be great for public relations.
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