tashirojima

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Tashirojima: Cat island of Japan

The Cat Island, officially called Tashirojima, is a small island in Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan, that is inhabited by more cats than people. The island has become known as “Cat Island” due to the large stray cat population that thrives as a result of the local belief that feeding cats will bring wealth and good fortune. The cat population is now larger than the human population on the island.

But Tashirojima doesn’t have too many humans to begin with. There are approximately 100 residents on Cat Island, and most of them are over 70. One person is 37, and everybody else is over 60 years old. With more than 50% of the population being over 65 years of age, the survival of the island is threatened. It won’t be long before the four footed animal end up being the only living being on the Cat island. 

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Tashirojima (Cat Island) - Ishinomaki, Japan 

On the island of Tashirojima, the cats outnumber people, and the people like it that way.

It’s no accident that the cats who inhabit Tashirojima, or what has become known as “Cat Island,” in Japan have come to be the island’s primary residents. Cats have long been thought by the locals to represent luck and good fortune, and doubly so if you feed and care for them. Thus, the cats are treated like kings, and although most are feral because keeping them as “pets” is generally considered inappropriate, they are well-fed and well-cared-for.

Despite this, luck and fortune hasn’t exactly come to the human residents of “Cat Island.” In the last 50 years, the human population of the island has dwindled from 1,000 to fewer than 100. As more and more people have shunned the island as it became dominated by felines, the people that have remained have become ever more protective of the cats. Currently, dogs are not allowed on the island to protect the well-being of the cats – and presumably any dog foolish enough to venture onto an island full of feral cats.

Find out how to visit Tashirojima (Cat Island) on Atlas Obscura…

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A whole island full of cats could be your next vacation. For real.

Commonly known as Cat Island, Tashirojima’s feline origins go back almost 300 years when residents grew silkworms for the textile industry. In order to protect their business, people brought cats to the island to eat the mice that preyed on those silkworms. When the human population eventually dwindled, the cat population began to flourish. Fed by the remaining fishermen, now the animals dominate the island.

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From Japan’s rabbit island, we hop over to… cat island! Another incredible sight!

田代島 (Tashirojima)

Tashirojima, otherwise known as “Cat Island”, is an inhabited island in Ishinomaki, Miyagi. A large stray cat population thrives in the area and there are even more of them than humans. People here really love these cats and so dogs aren’t allowed inside the island. It is also known as “Manga Island” because of the manga-inspired structures and cat art in the area.