Cat Island: One of the strangest almost-abandoned places on earth

Stef Zisovska
In Japanese culture, it is believed that cats bring good luck. So, residents and tourists who come to Tashirojima every year have the luxury to lose themselves in a swarm of lucky charms.Author: Sayoko Shimoyama CC BY 2.0

The crazy cat lady nickname is very popular around the country. This may be you, or you are maybe just a regular cat person having trouble finding a perfect vacation spot. That’s why the Outdoor Revival team have found that place for you.

There is a small island in Japan, off the Oshika Peninsula, where cats are sacred and are more numerous than humans. That island is Tashirojima.

There are around 100 human inhabitants on the island, but what’s interesting here is that the majority of the residents on Tashirojima are cats. Yes, this place is governed by felines who roam around freely all over it.

Tashirojima Island, Japan
Tashirojima Island, Japan

The locals on the island consider cats as animals who bring good luck and fortune, especially if you feed them and give them a shelter.

People take care of them and feed them though the cats remain feral because there is a belief that keeping them as pets is inappropriate. Dogs are not allowed in Tashirojima in order to keep the tranquil life of the cats untouched.

Being a small island in the modern era, many people have left the island, especially the younger generation.

The aging population today is just a small portion of the 1,000 people who called Tashirojima home in the 1950s.

Cats on the cat island
Cats on the cat island

Since Tashirojima became known as a cat island, tourists started visiting, more each year. Increased tourism rates are good for the local people who can once again see some benefits from their co-residents.

There is even a tourist facility called Manga Island which has amusing cat shaped cabins in a Japanese cute Manga style.

In Japan’s Edo Period most of the local population was raising silkworms for their textile manufacturers. They needed cats to chase the mice that ate the silkworms.

As the years passed by, the feline number grew. Today the number of cats outnumbers humans 6 to 1 on this small Japanese Island.

The cat shrine Neko-jinja in the middle of the island
The cat shrine Neko-jinja in the middle of the island

In the middle of the island, there is a cat shrine known as Neko-jinja. After the Edo Period, fishing became very popular in the area.

Fishermen from the neighboring islands who would come to spend a night or two here became very fond of the cats and started observing their behavior. According to them, cats can predict weather changes that help the fishermen to get a better catch.

Can cats really predict the weather and fishing conditions? The local fishermen believe they do.
Can cats really predict the weather and fishing conditions? The local fishermen believe they do.

Once, while a man was fishing, a rock fell down and killed a cat that was keeping good luck for the fisherman. After that, he built a monument for the cat where the shrine still stands today.

It seems that the cat spirits approved for the island is known as a great place for oysters.

A warm feline welcome
A warm feline welcome

Whether you believe or not in the sacred cats of Tashirojima, this island is an awesome place to visit. T

hey say it was the good luck from the cats that saved them during the tsunami in 2011 and the Tohoku earthquake. It’s up to you to judge if it’s true or not and the best way to do it is to go there and check it for yourself.

Good luck with this cat adventure!

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stef-zisovska is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival