The other day, I wrote about “Cat Island, Mississippi” where the American army tried to train dogs to hunt Japanese people by smell. Today, I’m going to tell you about another cat island, except this one is in Japan, and it’s actually covered in cats, not dogs, and the cats only seem trained to find and eat fish, not certain Japanese people.
What Is It?
“Cat Island,” officially known as “Tashiro Island” (田代島), is an island near Ishinomaki City in Miyagi Prefecture… and yes, to answer your one burning question… it’s covered in cats. Check out this Google Maps satellite view of the island.
In all seriousness, though, it can be accessed via ferry. You can get from Ishinomaki (石巻) to Tashirojima (Cat Island). Here’s a big picture of Japan to see what area it’s in.
And if we zoom in, we can see Ishinomaki and Tashirojima and how close they are to each other.
When you go, you take an awesome little ferry, too. Sadly, not cat shaped in any way.
Apparently, cats on this island are way more populous than actual people on this island. 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. That’s a lot of old people, but luckily cats are here to save the day. According to Wikipedia:
In the past, the islanders raised silkworms for silk, and cats were kept in order to keep the mouse population down (because mice are a natural predator of silkworms). Fixed-net fishing was popular on the island after the Edo Period and fishermen from other areas would come and stay on the island overnight. The cats would go to the inns where the fishermen were staying and beg for scraps. Over time, the fishermen developed a fondness for the cats and would observe the cats closely, interpreting their actions as predictions of the weather and fish patterns. One day, when the fishermen were collecting rocks to use with the fixed-nets, a stray rock fell and killed one of the cats. The fishermen, feeling sorry for the loss of the cat, buried it and enshrined it at this location on the island.
The modern people of this island are hoping that they can use the cats (coupled with a decent amount of media attention they’ve been getting) to attract people to visit, then eventually live there. If they don’t, then I’m afraid the island will look like a scene from Jurasic Park 2: Lost World, minus the dinosaurs with a few thousand cats thrown in.
It’s only been a couple years, but I guess it’s kind of working – a lot more tourists make their way to Cat Island to take pictures of cats, feed cats, pet cats, and all kinds of other things you can do with cats.
Basically, if you like cats, this is going to be your little Cat Mecca. Besides the cats themselves, there are other cat themed things you can take part in. For example, there’s a cat shrine:
Also, there’s cat shaped buildings…
and other things as well… Thing is, you can walk this island in a day if you wanted. It’s only about 8 square miles. Don’t go into any dark alleyways, though, you never know what a mob of cats might do to you.
Oh, and of course, dogs are strictly prohibited.
Update: Duh, YouTube has a ton of Cat Island videos. Warning. These videos contain cats.
Fisherman feeding the cats
Jack, the cat that made Cat Island Famous (he’s the one with the loppy ear)
Our visit to Cat Island
P.S. If you’re worried about getting Zerg Rushed by cats, you should follow Tofugu on Twitter, Here.