Discover Cat Island: Japan’s Hidden Feline Paradise

Meow-nificent island inhabitants: The charming cats of Tashirojima – Photo:

Japan is well-known as one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations. When most people are planning their trip here, though, they don’t think about paying a visit to Tashirojima Island, also known as “Cat Island.”

Tashirojima Island gets its nickname from the extensive population of cats that roam around it. The cat population actually outnumbers the island’s human residents!

Initially, the cats were brought to the island to assist with pest control on its silkworm farms. Since then, they’ve proliferated and now outnumber humans by nearly four to one.

To get to Tashirojima Island and witness the cats for yourself, you must take a 45-60 minute ferry ride from central Ishinomaki, which costs 1,250 yen. There are 3-4 round-trip ferry rides available per day, so visitors should plan accordingly to avoid missing their boat.

When you arrive, you can explore the many narrow roads that connect the island’s two villages and see plenty of furry felines. However, most of the cats reside near Nitoda Port, which is located on the southeastern side.

When you’ve finished playing with and taking photos of the cats (most of them love the attention), you can check out the manga-themed camping resort on the island’s southern tip (this resort has also earned Tashirojima the nickname “The Manga Island”).

This resort features several cat-shaped cottages, each of which includes cat-themed artwork created by famous manga artists like Ishinomori Shotaro, Chiba Tetsuya, and Kimura Naomi. Each unit also contains a kitchen, toilet, and bathing facility and is open for overnight stays for those who want to spend more time on the island.

Visitors should note that beyond the resort, Tashirojima doesn’t offer many tourist facilities. It has very few shops. Travelers are also asked to take home all garbage produced during their time on the island.