Animals are persistent when it comes to getting what they want. It’s something pet owners know all too well. Sure, you can protest all you’d like, but whether it’s a spot in bed, a few scraps from the table, or even a simple belly rub, sooner or later every pet gets their way.

Things are no different in Japan, where after being turned away from a local attraction a pair of furry pals decided they weren’t going to take “no” for an answer. With the odds stacked against them, these animals attempted what no four-legged creature had done before — and got the whole world watching in the process.

Located in Japan’s Hiroshima Prefecture, surrounded by the region’s signature cherry blossoms, the Onomichi City Museum of Art is known for showcasing artwork that highlights the natural beauty of Japan.


Painters Wasaku Kobayashi and Wada Eisaku naturalist styles have drawn thousands to the small gallery. But even for all its popularity, it was one famous artist’s work that really put the museum on the map… 

Wikimedia Commons / Galerie Nichido

Mitsuaki Iwagō is renowned for his wildlife photography. So when the celebrated cameraman announced he’d be opening an exhibit at the Onomichi, the art world flocked to see his latest masterpiece firsthand.


The collection was titled Cats, and, unsurprisingly, the photos depicted the candid moments of furry felines all over Japan. It was an immediate success, but no one expected a museum visitor would wind up being the biggest draw!


On a summer’s day in 2016, the security guard stationed at the door of the Onomichi was greeted by an unusual visitor: a black cat. Since the museum was located in the heart of a park, the guard assumed the little guy was simply a curious stray.

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But when a guest triggered the building’s sliding doors, the seemingly innocent cat attempted to dash inside behind them! The guard was amused, but since the museum had a strict no-pet policy, he plopped him back outside.

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But this particular furball would not be deterred. The very next day, as he completed his daily rounds, the security guard discovered the cat waiting outside the sliding doors once again.

The Siver Post

“I’m guessing that [the cat] spotted some of the exhibits through the glass, and since the photos included those of black cats, he must have thought he had found a new friend,” said the museum’s curator, Shinji Umebayashi. “And then he just kept coming back.”

Life With Cats

Puzzled by their unusual guest, museum staff did some digging and discovered that the cat – named Ken-chan – belonged to the owner of a nearby restaurant. Ken-chan began returning to the gallery almost every single day.

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The cat would show up at the front door, attempt to enter, and quickly be placed right back outside. Staff and visitors alike marveled at the playful routine, baffled by Ken-chan’s determination to enter the museum.


Word began to spread of this adorable game of cat-and-mouse between Ken-chan and the Onomichi security guard, and pretty soon crowds gathered just to see the resilient cat’s efforts. Nothing was working! So it was time for Ken-chan to get creative…

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The next time Ken-chan showed up, the staff was surprised to find he’d brought a friend. The orange tabby was another local cat, and it appeared Ken-chan convinced him that, when it came to getting into the museum, two heads were better than one.

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Just like Ken-chan, the orange cat began returning almost daily, both alone and with his buddy at his side. And though the staff took to him as they had Ken-chan, their newest feline friend – whom they dubbed “Go-chan” – was also denied entry into the gallery.

NZ Herald

The story of these cats and their efforts soon became a viral sensation. Some online users implored the Onomichi to let the cats inside, while the vast majority of others were content to tune into the museum’s regular updates on the dynamic duo.

NZ Herald

Since then, the popularity of the two cats has grown to become so great that the Onomichi has put out a line of souvenirs in honor of their unofficial mascots. Ken-chan and Go-chan have even inspired artwork of their own!

Even after years of futile attempts, both cats continue to return day after day, likely hoping that their newfound fame – and adorable looks – will earn them entrance. Until that happens, they’re content to enjoy the museum’s grounds. 

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“The museum is in a park, so there’s no traffic to worry about,” said Umebayashi. “[The cats] treat the park like it’s their own garden.” However, the pair might have to take a day off from their mission for one very special purpose…

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Earlier this year, officials from the Russian resort community of Zelenogradsk invited Ken-chan, Go-chan, and the Onomichi staff to be their guests at an upcoming cat-centric holiday celebration. This seemed like the perfect place for the felines to take a well-deserved vacation.

Russian Voyages

While it’s unlikely that the Onomichi will break policy even for their most honored “guests,” the story of Ken-chan and Go-chan will continue to delight animal lovers for years to come. And besides: why pay to see a few photographs when the real stars are waiting just outside?

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Can’t get enough of this adorable duo? We can’t blame you for that in the least. Check out this video to see more of Ken-chan’s and Go-chan’s adorable feline antics!