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Japan: Siren Call for Cat Lovers

by Angelique Platas

Feb 26, 2019

© Li Gao | Dreamstime.com


Rest assured, cat-loving travelers can basically go anywhere in Japan and find kitty-covered everything, from candy and cookies decorated with cat faces, to clothing, accessories, purses, backpacks and essentially anything else you can think of. It’s safe to say the Japanese public really loves cats.


For like-minded families looking for that extra cat power on their trip, Japan has a couple islands dedicated to making those dreams come true.



Anyone feline-obsessed may already know Aoshima is the place to be. Also known as Cat Island, Aoshima is an island in the Ehime Prefecture famous for the large population of feral cats. The feline residents outnumber humans 10:1 and are descendants of their ancestors, who lived on the island to decrease the rodent population. Mission accomplished, and then some.


Resident of Tashirojima, Japan © Charles Penny | Dreamstime.com

Resident of Tashirojima, Japan © Charles Penny | Dreamstime.com


A lesser-known cat island, but with more than 150 residents awaiting visitors, Ainoshima is a cat-lover’s getaway. On the island of Shingu, in the Fukuoka Prefecture, Ainoshima is a small island, just more than 300 acres, offering scenic coastlines, hot springs, quaint quiet towns and, of course, a small village of cats living by the main port. Feel free to bring a few snacks on your visit; the resident cats will love you all the more for it.



Known as a cat island of Miyagi, Tashirojima is located off the coast of Ishinomaki and home to hundreds of cats. Begin your journey to Odomari Port, but no need to bring catnip, these felines are well-fed by local fisherman and a bit heartier than you might expect. Tashirojima is a small island with a low population (of humans) and few tourist amenities, so be sure to keep a vigilant eye on bus departures and taxis to get you around the island. Explore the quiet, rural, local culture like you’re one of the gang and visit the Nitoda port. Seek out the nearby Nekokamisama cat shrine — like a kitty pilgrimage.


If you just want to pay a quick visit to a cat island, get in, say hi and get out, any would be a fun visit — just choose the island closest to your accommodations. Depending on how many kids you have in tow and their ages, the ferry rides can be beautiful, but tiring for the little ones.


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