This is the first of two pieces on Tonarino, a Full region we originally visited just over a year ago in December 2019 (see: Tonarino: an oriental curio in Second Life). At that time, the region was a ground-level build, the work of 秋元のん (n0rik0), offering a Japanese urban design theme that was photogenic and fun to explore.
However, not long after our initial visit, n0rik0 extended the region design with the inclusion of a sky platform – Nekomachi Street – which we actually managed to miss at the time it was available. So, when I noted by way of Annie Brightstar’s Scoop-it pages that Nekomachi Street was back, I knew it was time for a return visit to Tonarino, starting with the sky platform lest it only be available for a limited time, and then progressing to the ground to see what has changed there.
The clue to the theme of the sky platform, if the preceding shots above haven’t actually given it away, is in the name – neko, as in cat, so “Nekomachi” could be taken literally as “cat town” or “cat city”, with the setting itself being precisely that: a street scene featuring cats. However, these are not your average domesticated cats, as clever as they may be. These are cats that are completely anthropomorphic and who have overcome the limitations of not having an opposable thumb, in order to create a very human-like life for themselves in what is a delightful continuation of the overall Japanese theme for the region.
For those who visited the location in its past iteration, I understand that outside of the restaurant specialising in crab delicacies, not much has changed between this iteration of Nekomachi Street and the last. Which doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be re-visited; quite the reverse, I’d say: the entire setting is utterly adorable, whether or not you have seen it before.
These feline characters – from sets by 丸角の人 (shiro0822), and sold under their Maru Kado brand (just search for “cats” to list the three sets) – are going about their daily lives just as we humans might. In this, n0rik0 has sown considerable creativity in how the various cats are presented and what they are doing.
Take the crab restaurant, which I’ve arbitrarily selected as a landing point for the article (the setting does have a more “formal” point of arrival / departure, but I’ll come to that later). Here, a kimono-wearing cat is clearly being tempted by the window display as she walks by – and is about to be further tempted by the platter (of samples?) a member of staff is holding by the entrance, whilst inside customers are happily eyeing their meals of fresh crab and supping beer.
Further down the road from the restaurant, another cat is on his pizza delivery round, skilfully managing his bicycle while holding aloft a veritable tower of boxed pizzas, meals the group of cats and kittens putting on their own show outside the local cinema might actually enjoy, although they seem quite wrapped up in their dancing. Around a corner, meanwhile, another cat has stopped his little van above the local river to appreciate the view. A few metres away, another cat peruses the outdoor racks of the local bookshop while inside, the shop owner stands engrossed in one of his tomes.
Throughout the setting, around every corner and within many of the little shops and stores, similar scenes unfold, from the mechanic taking a break from work to enjoy and garden lunch and a read of a newspaper, to the baker and the happy-go-lucky delivery cats with their cart. Unsurprisingly, food does play a considerable role in daily life here – but name me a cat that doesn’t consider every minute of the day to be approximately half-past dinner time and therefore ideal for a snack?
However, the most endearing little scene awaits discovery along the eastern street.
Here, outside the local theatre and before a growing crowd, two highly skilled jugglers put on a show intended to entice people into the theatre – and their use of parasols and little boxes is a delight to watch. Animesh in nature, these are part of a gacha set by shiro0822, items of which can be obtained from the Maru Kado in-world store.
Just across the road from the theatre is a little alley linking the street with another, and which is notable for the little work cat climbing out of the manhole there. However, more than just working, he offers the way down to the ground level, and forms the “official” landing point for Nekomachi Street – touching his head will deliver you to the ground-level town, but I’ll be covering that in the follow-up to this article in due course.
- Nekomachi Street (Tonarino, rated Moderate)