On certain islands in the Japan archipelago, charming little villages exist where the number of cats has far surpassed the number of people, making these destinations into Cat Islands that lovers of adorable felines are bound to enjoy. Often these cats were originally brought to these uninhabited fishing villages to serve as pest control guardians, and now are the masters of these islands. When planning your next vacation to the Land of the Rising Sun, plan a day trip to hop on a ferry to these Cat Islands in Japan, where these cuddly creatures await visitors to play with.
The most famous of these cat islands is Aoshima Island, in the southern prefecture of Ehime, sitting in the Seto Inland Sea. Imagine walking through the worn streets of an old fishing villages, where dusty sardine storehouses and ramshackle storefronts with darkened windows still stand. You may see four or five locals pottering in and out of old-fashioned houses, but here, there, and everywhere you see scores of sleepy, lazy furballs sitting in the sun. These resident cats are the real owners of Aoshima's fishing village, where they roam freely around the old buildings. Enough people come to play with these cats to keep them docile and domesticated, so the visitors brought by ferry to the island doesn't seem to bother them at all.
Tashirojima is another of Japan's Cat Islands, this one sitting in the Pacific just off the coast of Miyagi Prefecture. This island is also home to a couple under-inhabited fishing villages, though it has a bit more development. It includes an outdoor recreation area called Manga Island where travelers can rent a small bungalow for a night or even pitch a tent, and the island also contains a cafe and general store. Cats are incredibly special animals on Tashirojima, which has even built a cute little Cat Shrine in their honor. The cats here are also friendly and will walk right up to strangers, especially if you have some food or a little toy for them to play with. Cat islands in Japan are adorable, friendly, and filled with cute felines who love visitors. You can play with them, feed them treats (sometimes), and enjoy having them around for hours on end.
Aoshima Island is a little island off the coast of Ehime Prefecture in Japan's Seto Inland Sea. While the island is pretty to look at, and includes a charming, nearly uninhabited fishing village, no one comes here for the scenery. They come here for the hundred or so adorable cats that inhabit most of the town and surrounding area. So you can imagine a little island, its little fishing port dotted with dusty old houses, wooden sardine warehouses fallen nearly to pieces, perhaps a rusty boat floating offshore, and peeking out from these ruins of the once-thriving village are at least a dozen or so pairs of squinted eyes in adorably furry faces. And on a village street undisturbed by cars, another dozen little fluff-balls of orange, white, brown, and black dot the pavement, mewing sleepily at wandering visitors. Five or six will likely amble up to you, especially if you have food for them - you might be the first human person they've seen that day. The few people that do live here feed the cats when visitors aren't there, and keep them docile and domesticated. So the cats rarely run off when friendly, polite visitors come over for a cuddle - you'll likely find a few competing for your attention! Because this village of felines doesn't have much in the way of poeple, there aren't any hotels, shops, or restaurants. There aren't any places for cat lovers to stay the night, which is why travelers to Aoshima plan a day trip where they can enjoy a few hours playing with cats before taking the ferry back to the mainland.
Tashirojima Island is an enchanting island in Miyagi Prefecture, inhabited by a few small villages. During the 1600s, the villagers brought cats to the island to protect their local silk-worm harvesting industry from mice. These feline guardians became so important to the local livelihood that a little shrine was even built to honor them. Over time, Tashirojima's human population declined, eventually becoming a couple of sleepy fishing villages, but the number of cats increased, reaching over a hundred and fifty cats living on the island today. Walking around the villages, you will easily see a number of these furry friends huddled together on the sidewalks or in front of shops (they aren't allowed in). The Cat Shrine is possibly one of Japan's cutest shrines, a with miniature cat-sized gate and shrine building where travelers leave offerings of cat toys and little waving cat dolls. Cat toys can also be found around town for visitors to use while playing with the cats. For visitors who want to stay overnight on the island, there is an outdoor recreation area called Manga Island where you can rent a cat-shaped bungalow or camp in a tent. The island also has a basic general store and cafe for visiting tourists. Because the cats are the island's treasure, no dogs are permitted on the island. With its abundance of feline friends, Tashirojima is one of the best island-hopping destinations for animal lovers.