Giant ‘Catzilla’ attraction takes over downtown Tokyo

People think the display is the cat’s pajamas.

Tokyo has devised an unorthodox way to cheer up its citizenry during the coronavirus pandemic — by installing a giant 3D cat billboard above one of the Japanese megacity’s busiest districts.

“We all felt warmth the moment the cat appeared on-screen,” marveled one gawker of the hyperrealistic “Catzilla” attraction, which overlooks the Shinjuku train station from a 1,664-square-foot curved 4K LED screen on the side of a building, Reuters reported. The virtual kitty looks so lifelike that it appears ready to pounce on the hordes of alarmed passersby below, which can number as many as 190,000 per day in the district.

The “Blade Runner 2049”-evoking billboard was the brainchild of local business owners who wanted to create a mascot to boost morale as Tokyo faces a second COVID-19 wave, according to Reuters. The city recorded a whopping 920 new cases on Wednesday, the most since May 13.

In order to entertain pandemic-weary pedestrians, the calico — the breed which is the official symbol of good fortune in Japan — changes its behavior depending on the time of day. The digital doppelgänger begins its routine by getting startled awake at 7 a.m., and by afternoon, it’s standing up and meowing at commuters below. Come evening, the cat-simile lies down and falls asleep until it disappears around 8 p.m., ready to begin the adorable loop anew the next morning.

The display doesn’t officially launch until July 12, however, test runs have been taking place since last month, much to the delight of social media.

An account associated with Cross Shinjuku Vision, a website launched for the display, recently tweeted a clip of the kitty’s afternoon iteration, which currently boasts over 4 million views.

Another witness uploaded a video of the nappy cat’s bedtime ritual, writing that it “looks sleepy at night.”

Don’t fret if you can’t visit the exhibit in person as one of the companies behind the display, Cross Space, has started sharing a live broadcast of the billboard via YouTube. Alas, the 3D effect is only visible from certain angles.


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