NASU, Tochigi Prefecture--For winter visitors to the Nasu Animal Kingdom zoo here, "kotatsu" heated tables are provided to keep their legs and feet toasty while the cats all around will warm their hearts.
The special winter kotatsu service is marking its seventh year, allowing sightseers to spend time with the animals at two kotatsu with benches set up in the corner of a space for the free-roaming small dogs and cats.
Although ordinary kotatsu require people to remove their shoes, visitors to the facility can sit at the heated tables without slipping off their footwear.
The Nasu Animal Kingdom keeps about 20 cats from across the world. They are allowed to relax with visitors at the exchange section, except when they are performing in shows.
As "dotera" padded kimono are also available there, the space is the best place for visitors who grow tired from all the walking around to rest. They can enjoy stroking and viewing various cats from mixed-breed felines to short-haired and long-haired ones that relax around kotatsu or are curled up in an earthen pot on the table.
Maki Hattori, 35, and Yukari Masuda, 30, who were visiting the zoo from Tokyo, described the cats as being "really cute" and the exchange section as "fun and relaxing."
The kotatsu service will continue through mid-March. For more information visit the website (http://www.nasu-oukoku.com/contents/english2015.html).