A ryokan is a type of traditional Japanese inn that usually features tatami-matted rooms, communal baths, and other public areas where guests may wear a casual summer kimono and talk to the owner. Ryokans have existed since the 8th century, which is also when the oldest hotel in the world, Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan, was created. However, these establishments are still relevant; one of them just went viral for its services.
It is called My Cat Yugawara and is located in the hot spring town of Yugawara, Kanagawa Prefecture. Among all the offers, there’s a “trial” package that allows guests to experience first-hand what it’s like living with a cat.
Akihiro Ochi, the owner of the inn, told us that there are people in Japan who want to keep or interact with cats but are unable to bring the animals to their home due to their living conditions. So, a facility where such a person can spend the whole day in a room with a cat as if they belong to the same family is really needed.
“The cats in My Cat Yugawara are by no means working,” Ochi said. “Everyone within My Cat Yugawara are family and best friends. We even sleep and eat together.”
The owner said they are working a 24-hour shift themself. “We, the staff, know the personality of each and every cat ‘child’ we have because of how close we all are.
Ochi said the cats are smart, friendly, obedient, and calm. “We are not operating for profit. A huge portion of our income goes to maintaining the facility, including feeding the cats and maintaining their health.”
Everyone who purchases the trial package will share their room with a cat. The feline will arrive at 5.30 PM and stay until 9 AM. During that time, guests must not leave the cat unattended.
First-time guests are also required to complete at least one session in the My Cat Yugawara cafe, so that the staff can make sure they’re comfortable around the critters, and that the cats are comfortable around them.
The trial package is not just fun and games. Since the guests are responsible for taking care of the animal, they will also have to clean its litter box with a scooper they will receive at check-in.
The trial package was created for people who are thinking about getting a cat as their pet but aren’t entirely sure whether or not that’s the right choice for them. My Cat Yugawara hopes to help them to find out.
The best part is that if a person decides they not only want a cat but like the one they spent the night with, My Cat Yugawara will make it possible to adopt it.
The applicant, however, will have to go through an interview where the inn will determine whether or not they and the cat are a good fit.
The trial package is a 2,200 JPY (about 21 USD) per-cat surcharge over the hotel’s regular price of 4,950 JPY (47 USD) per person, or room rate of 3,190 JPY (30 USD) per guest for those staying in a room without a private bathroom.
These rates are without meals but the inn can happily help with placing orders with local restaurants that will deliver pizza or sushi.
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