Giant ‘lifelike’ cat appears on new 3-D billboard outside Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station

[The stories from The New York Times and SoraNews24 below contain different details about a new, popular presence illusion outside a busy subway station in Tokyo. Each story contains short videos of the giant “Shinjuku east exit cat” along with some other examples of illusions created the billboard display technology. –Matthew]

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.

By Hikari Hida and Mike Ives
July 8, 2021

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 [July 12], 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.”

Unlike many of the flashing billboards and signs in the area, the cat isn’t advertising a specific product or brand.

Takayuki Ohkawa, a spokesman for the Japanese conglomerate Unika, one of the two companies running the feline display, said that the cat does not have an official name. (Fans have called it “Shinjuku east exit cat,” after the station.)

“There are many reasons we decided to display the cat, but one of the big reasons is that with corona, the world became very dark,” Mr. Ohkawa added, referring to the coronavirus pandemic. “Through the cat display, we wanted to revive Shinjuku and make it brighter.”

Officials in Tokyo reported 920 new Covid-19 infections on Wednesday, the city’s highest tally since mid-May. On Thursday, the Japanese government placed Tokyo under its fourth state of emergency since the start of the pandemic, weeks before the city is scheduled to host the Summer Olympics.

When one fan of the feline, Kenjiro Shimoda, stopped by Shinjuku station recently, he saw other people hanging around waiting to record multiple cat cameos. He could only stay long enough to see one, he said, but it was worth it.

“Its impact was more powerful than I thought,” said Mr. Shimoda, who works in marketing.

It isn’t the first three-dimensional billboard to delight pedestrians and social media users in East Asia. One last year in Seoul displayed a crashing wave. Another, in the southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu, showed a “Star Trek”-like spaceship that appeared to emerge from a building.

A video feed of the cat billboard is being livestreamed for those who can’t visit the Shinjuku area. Around lunchtime on Thursday, nearly 200 YouTube users were watching as the cat waved its tail and gazed at some aboveground subway cars.

Still, the cat’s human masters have acknowledged that the three-dimensional illusion isn’t nearly as pronounced on a live feed as in person.

Some people — even cat people — may also find that the Shinjuku east exit cat’s repertoire can begin to feel a little repetitive. Mr. Ohkawa said that new visuals may be introduced on Monday, but he declined to elaborate.

“You’ll just have to wait and see,” he said.

[From SoraNews24]

Giant cat appears on new 3-D billboard outside Shinjuku Station [Video]

Japan finally gets its own jaw-dropping billboard in Tokyo.

By Oona McGee
July 4, 2021

Big companies looking for advertising space with maximum impact on the streets of Tokyo might have Shibuya’s scramble crossing at the top of their list, but now there’s a new location vying for everyone’s attention, located in neighbouring Shinjuku.

Called Cross Shinjuku Vision, the new ad space towers over pedestrians right outside Shinjuku Station, which is known for being the busiest train station in the world. The screen here covers an area of 154.7 square metres (1,665 square feet) and sits at the top of the newly constructed Cross Shinjuku building, covering three floors of the landmark at the east exit of the station.

[snip]

Boasting the latest 4K image quality and speakers with high-quality sound, the new screen provides the most beautiful images you’ve ever seen, and to demonstrate that they’ve been pre-airing a special feature of the new service from 1 July, which stars a giant, lifelike calico cat.

Behold Shinjuku’s largest furry new resident here.

No, you’re not seeing things — that’s a giant 3-D cat meowing as it moves back and forth, looking down at pedestrians as if it might jump on them at any moment. The video is equal parts cute and terrifying — especially when the curious feline makes direct eye contact with you — but there’s no denying this is an image unlike any Tokyo has ever seen.

This type of new advertising previously went viral online when it was seen in China [see video in original story or via YouTube]

And South Korea [see video in original story or via YouTube]

Now Japan is finally joining the trend for curved LED digital signage, which adds greater depth to visuals to create the mesmerising 3-D effect, without the need for 3-D glasses to view the spectacle. The giant cat, developed by Microad Digital Signage and Yunika in conjunction with Cross Space, is set to have its grand debut on 12 July, when it will appear as if waking in the morning at the opening of the ad loop at 7 a.m., and falling asleep at the end of the day before the signage turns off at 1:00 a.m.

During the day, the cat will appear periodically between ads, so if you’re lucky you’ll be able to catch sight of it, and you don’t have to be in Japan to see it either, thanks to this livestream of the building on Cross Space’s official YouTube channel.

As previously mentioned, the cat will be appearing regularly throughout the day from 12 July so be sure to keep an eye on that livestream! Now that we’ve seen a giant calico cat in Shinjuku, and a black cat dispensing gifts at the station, who knows what we’ll see next in the area!

Information:
Cross Shinjuku Vision / クロス新宿ビジョン
Address: Tokyo-to, Shinjuku-ku, Shinjuku 3-23-18
東京都新宿区新宿3丁目23−18
Screening: Periodically from 7:00 a.m.-1:00 a.m. (sound is turned off at 11:00 p.m.)
Website

Source: Twitter/@cross_s_vision
Featured image: Twitter/@cross_s_vision

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