row of lucky cats

Stray Cat Photo Collection (Last) – Behind-scene Shots

These first three images were taken from my friend Marisa’s phone. She kindly and patiently agreed to come along on my cat finding adventure. We also explored the docks and back-alley shops. There are a few host/hostess type bars in the area with interesting people milling about the fronts, especially later in the evening. We still felt perfectly safe (I don’t think I could say the same if I were in America). Marisa is street-savvy and tough, and an all-around cool person, so I could relax and talk to cats with her at my back.

White Alley Cat


Here is a sampling of the cats and kittens I came across hanging out in alleyways, at temples, and in storefronts. At least a couple of them, I was pleased to see, did have collars, but were allowed to mingle with the real strays.

Stray cat family

Another family occupying the streets

cat outside restaurant

This cat seemed to have adopted this restaurant as a prime panhandling location

another alleycat

One of innumerable cats haunting Beppu’s alleyways

scruffy calico

A scruffy calico tries to sleep on a sidewalk

Cat hiding under car close-up

Close-up of cat hiding under car

Cat hiding under car

A cat hides under a car wheel

Alley cat buddies

Alley cat buddies

White alleycat

White alleycat

Alley Cats close-up

Alley cat gang watching me warily

Hair salon cat

This cat wasn’t a stray judging by his/her collar. A resident of the hair salon?

Hair Salon Cat

Hair Salon Cat guards the entrance

Hair Salon Cat

Close up of the hair salon cat

Close-up of temple yard cat

Close-up of temple yard cat

temple cat

Another temple resident

Temple porch cat

This cat has found a home at this temple

cat offering belly

A friendly non-stray rolls about on the street

Cat scratching post

A collared cat files down her claws on a temple post

Stray Cat Photo Collection – Kitahama Park

Because of WordPress’s horrific layout controls, I’m going to put all the images that would have been included in “Noraneko: Stray Cats in Beppu and Nagasaki” in separate collections. Enjoy!

Friendly cat at Kitahama Park

Super friendly cat likes scritchies.

Orange cat at Kitahama Park

Orange Cat at Kitahama Park

Sleeping Kitahama Cats

Cats sleeping at Kitahama Park. Growing up together as strays seemed to have given them good bonds.

lovemaking cats

A public display of foreplay and lovemaking, ensuring future generations of Kitahama Park kittens. (Actually they separated after a few moments so they didn’t actually mate; practicing?) In any case, it proved that these cats aren’t spayed/neutered, and thus lies the problem. 

Grey Tabby at Kitahama Park

A grey tabby eyes the camera from the bushes

Feeding crab treats to a hungry black cat

My friend Anri offers some crab treats to a very hungry black cat.

Friendly cat at Kitahama Park

The friendliest cat I met approaches me for some love. Unfortunately I never saw him again at the park.

Cat gang at Kitahama Park

Cat gang at Kitahama Park.

Cats at Kitahama Park

Cats hanging out at Kitahama Park

Hungry black cat looks for crab treats

This cat smelled crab treats, and was very assertive about hunting them down. He was able to bite a hole in the plastic treat bag and nearly made off with the whole thing.

Orange and white cat in the bushes

One of Kitahama’s resident cats rests in the bushes

Sotoneko Japan by Shunsuke Minamihaba

Sotoneko Japan

Sotoneko Japan by Minami Shunsuke (Image credit:

When I was wandering Beppu’s mall (You-me Town), I found a book titled “Sotoneko Japan”, Outdoor-cat Japan by Shunsuke Minamihaba, which shows extensive research into the stray cat situation. It is full of beautiful and heartwrenching photos, as well as maps that point to where there are the highest populations of strays. The tagline is “Kawaii dake ga neko ja nai”, or “Cats are more than just cute”, pointing out that people need to respect them as living animals with needs and boundaries. The cover slip warns readers not to carelessly approach strays that may be feral. I was careful in my explorations not to attempt to touch any of the cats that didn’t approach me themselves.

I bought the book and took it home with me. Unfortunately I know very little Japanese (the kanji in the book don’t have furigana), so I wasn’t able to read much.

The author has a website where you can see some of his photography (text is in Japanese):

Also a blog (in Japanese):

Orange cat at Kitahama park

Noraneko: Stray Cats in Beppu and Nagasaki

When I came back from Japan, friends and family asked me why sixty percent or so of my trip photos starred cats. It’s not that I’m a cat fanatic, although I do love them, but the city of Beppu has so many stray cats, and they make interesting foreground subjects. Beppu isn’t the only city with a stray problem. In Nagasaki, too, cats perched on the monuments at the Peace Park, where in 1945 the atomic bomb fell.

Peace Park Cats

Cats hanging out atop a monument at Nagasaki’s Peace Park

Cats at Nagasaki’s Peace Park

Cats at Nagasaki’s Peace Park

Some of the felines hanging out in storefronts seemed to be adopted by shopkeepers, who had set out bowls of kibble. Sometimes I saw a kind lady at Kitahama Park (Beppu) offering the resident cat gang a large tub of catfood for dinner. Mostly though, the strays looked to be on their own.

Cats munching kibble

Cats chowing down on kibble left by a kind lady

A mom and her kittens hung out in a wood box on the side of a boat garage. The mom was a Calico, and it was very obvious from one of the bright white kittens what sort of man the dad had been. Mom-cat was shy and protective of her litter, so I couldn’t get too close. Sadly, a week later someone had filled the woodbox they’d been squatting in with wood, so the family had to move out and I didn’t see them again.

Strays have rough, dangerous lives, especially in the vulnerable and naive kitten stage. I was very depressed when I saw a kitten that didn’t make it lying on a sidewalk one night. Cars, cold, malnutrition; it’s a miracle that so many do survive the obstacles to become adults.

Unlike in California, in Beppu there didn’t appear to be active spay and neuter programs to stem the stray cat population. As charming as it was to pet friendly strays while I explored town, they shouldn’t be fending for themselves between busy streets and alleyways. I don’t know anything about local policies or the economic situation—I can only say what I observed for two short months—but I hope there is change in the future.

On a side note, I didn’t see a single stray dog. The dogs I did see (mostly shibainu) played in the parks with their owners.

Kittens living in Woodbox

Mom Cali playing with her kittens

Mother cat and kittens

Mother cat and kittens frolicking around a boat garage.