Japan’s love of silly puns merges with its love of cute animal motifs.

For a country that prides itself on high-level design, Japan’s license plates are pretty drab. If you’ve got a private-use passenger car, you get dark green numbers and text on a plain white field, regardless of where in the country your vehicle is registered.

More opportunities for aesthetically pleasing license plates exist, though, in the scooter and moped sector. For example, as of this month, if you live in the town of Shunan, Yamaguchi Prefecture, you can get a license plate with cat paw prints on it.

As is often the case in Japan, the whole thing started with a pun. In Japanese, the sound of a cat meowing is “nyan,” and so since 2017 Shunan has been promoting itself as Shunyan, telling travelers that the laid-back city is just the place to spend a day or two relaxing like a content cat and enjoying the coastal community’s laid-back lifestyle. As the promotions picked up speed, the city hit upon the idea of adding some feline appeal to its license plates.

The plates feature an outline of a kitty’s head behind the kanji for Shunan’s “nan,” and they all bear the hiragana ね, pronounced ne, which is also the first syllable in the word neko/”cat.” Each paw print takes the place of the empty digit that, when assigned to a plate, is ordinarily designated with a midline-high dot, like this ・.

Initial availability is limited to just 400 plates, thought the city has specified that as the available quantity for this year, suggesting that they might be making a second batch next year. The plates can be used with bikes with engine displacements of 50 cc or less, and applications can be made for both newly registered vehicles or as replacements for plates on vehicles which are already registered. The plates themselves are free, in the sense that there’s no premium charged over the fees for getting a regular set of plates.

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しゅうニャン市ご当地ナンバープレートでましたにゃ。 #しゅうニャン市 #ご当地ナンバー #肉球 #ネコグッズ #グッズ #かわいい #cute #周南市 #しゅうニャンナンバープレート #goods #numberplates 山口県周南市(しゅうニャン市)は、2018年9月18日(火)に、排気量50cc以下の原動機付自転車に取り付けるご当地ナンバープレートの交付をはじめました。 ナンバープレートは、縦10センチ、横20センチ。しゅうニャン市のイメージカラーの水色で縁取られ、地名の周南市には「しゅうニャン市」のロゴを採用。ひらがな表記は「ね」で統一し、4桁の車両番号が3桁以下の場合に表示される「・」を、ネコの肉球で表記しました。今年度400枚限定で発行。 ■しゅうニャン市ご当地ナンバープレートの交付について <対象車種> ・排気量50cc以下の原動機付自転車 <対象者> ・周南市内で対象車種を使用する人。 (新規購入者。または、ナンバープレートの交換希望者) <持参物> ・所有者と使用者の印鑑 ・メーカー名、車体番号、排気量が記載されている書類 ・交換の場合は、現在使用しているナンバープレート <交付開始日時> ・2018年9月18日(火)10時 ※希望ナンバー制を採用しない。1番から順に交付。 <交付場所> ・周南市役所本庁舎2階 課税課窓口 ・周南市役所各総合支所窓口(注:9月25日(火)から交付開始) <交付手数料> ・無料 <発行枚数> ・400枚(下1桁が4と9、下2桁が42の番号を除いた番号)

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There is one final requirement, which is that applicants must live in Shunan. Still, even if you’re not currently a resident, moving to the town might be worth it to get your hands on one of these plates, and living in Shunan would also put you in close proximity to Japan’s fabled boob temple.

Source, images: @Press
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