At the “Diorama Restaurant” in Osaka, Japan, a family of stray cats spends their days going full Godzilla, or kaiju, on model trains. While customers dine, they can watch the cats looking larger than life, lying amid miniature houses, rolling hills, model trains, and bridges. For the pièce de résistance, they may have the chance to see the cats smash the trains in the 65-square-meter establishment.
Amusingly, when a cat attacks a model train, the restaurant owner, Naoki Teraoka, 57, sometimes cheers them on. Later, he fixes the trains as part of his daily routine.
For over a decade, model train-themed restaurants and bars have been popular in Tokyo. And, Teraoka has operated miniature model-themed eateries since 2005. Nevertheless, the restaurant, which opened in 2018, struggled and almost shut down after the pandemic began. It seemed all was lost until a furry visitor appeared one day.
🚂🐾 A Stray Kitten On the Right Side of the Tracks 🐾🚂
One day, the owner adopted a starving stray kitten who appeared on the restaurant premises named Sara, and everything changed. Before long, Sara’s mother arrived with more kittens, so they adopted them too. Eventually, the family adopted 14 stray cats in all. As it turned out, this was a very lucky business decision.
Soon after adopting the cats, business bounced back. As the cats played with the model trains, Teraoka posted pictures on social media. Then, they became a hit, particularly on Instagram and then in the media and news.
“I was thinking whether to close down the restaurant or sell the business off at a low price so that it helps everyone,” Teraoka told Reuters. “As I was deliberating between these two options, those cats appeared and our lives have been changed by that.”
As diners watch, the cats’ antics provide funny entertainment. For cat lovers, watching the giant-sized cats prowling in miniature landscapes is great fun. Now, with a surge of interest, the restaurant was able to thrive even during the pandemic.
Video by franklin the woman:
From Model Trains to Cat Cafe and Shelter
In October 2021, Teraoka, grateful for the luck these cats have brought him, reportedly expanded the business to a cat cafe model and upstairs shelter, helping find the cats’ homes. When the cats in the restaurant want to escape from customers, they can always retreat to a separate area.
“What we are today is all thanks to the cats. I want to repay them from now on,” Teraoka told the Mainichi Shimbu.
Each time a customer makes a reservation, some of the proceeds help the cats, reports one customer.
“As we were eating lunch, some of the cats were playing and sleeping on the tracks. Definitely one of the best views I’ve had for a meal,” said one customer. (see video below)
Another customer and cat lover said the cats remind her of Godzilla.
“The way the cat strides between the miniature models really looks like Godzilla,” said customer Yukiko Sakagami. “I’ve never seen such a thing before so it’s very interesting to me.”
This miniature train model-themed Japanese restaurant is home to 14 stray cats and an attraction amongst cat lovers 🐱 pic.twitter.com/kAnhvRsdpK
— Reuters (@Reuters) February 24, 2022
Video by Inside Edition: