TofuguTV Episode 1: Cat Island, Japan Part 1

[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qVxpPggJMAY']

Cat Island Japan. It’s an island covered in hundreds, maybe thousands of cats. People population? Under 100. This island has become a little tourist attraction for people who happen to like cats. You can take pictures of them, pet (some of) them, stay in cat-shaped lodging, and even visit a cat shrine. It’s a little Cat Mecca of sorts, and it’s also the very first episode of TofuguTV.

In This Episode

I’d recommend watching the video (above) before reading this if you don’t want “spoilers” (I put quotes because there probably isn’t too much to spoil in the way of plot twists, etc… this is a travel show, after all).

In this episode, I’m joined by Shinnosuke (follow on Twitter), a friend from college who’s from the Saitama region of Japan. We traveled to a few different places, one of which was “Cat Island” (aka Tashirojima). Traveling from Sendai to Ishinomaki by train, then from Ishinomaki to Tashirojima by ferry, we arrived in the early afternoon, searching for cats. Unfortunately, finding cats was difficult for a while, since we got off on the side of the island that didn’t have cats.

This episode is all about getting to Tashirojima, as well as our search for the cats of “Cat Island.” Will we find cats? You’ll have to watch to find out.

What Is Cat Island?

Cat Island (aka Tashirojima / 田代島) is a small island off of Ishinomaki (and all of this is east of Sendai, Japan). Most of the population is pretty old, with an average age between 60 and 70 (that’s old!). Their main industries include fishing and people visiting to come look at the cats. A while back, fishermen started feeding the cats thinking it was good luck. After a while, people started noticing the amount of cats on the island, and it became a little tourist attraction.

There are two villages on the island (Oodomari and Nitoda), with Nitoda containing most of the cats. Near the centerish of the island (though closer to Nitoda) is the “Cat Shrine” (猫神社). There are cat shaped buildings (also near Nitoda), as well as various other (smaller) attractions. Although you can walk from Oodomari to Nitoda, most of the “fun stuff” is on the Nitoda side, so try to stop on that side if you’re going.

Earthquake Info: Cat Island was very close to the quake. Although there’s a lot of info floating about in regards to the damage to the island, there’s nothing concrete, and nothing I’d deem as “reliable.” Most of Nitoda is built on a pretty big hill, so that’s a good sign. Oodomari was built a lot lower and closer to sea level. Solely based off of that, I’d say (at the very least) you can assume all the “Tashirojima is submerged in water” headlines are just there to get hits. Aside from that, absolutely nothing reliable has come out. If you want to support Cat Island, wait a year or so and go visit them (and spend money). In the meantime, spreading rumors about Cat Island won’t help, so everybody calm down and wait for good info!

How To Get To “Cat Island” (Tashirojima)

Currently, getting to Tashirojima is probably a bit of a challenge because of the earthquake damage. If you’re coming from the south (good chance you are), you’ll want to get to the city of Sendai. From Sendai, you can take a local train to Ishinomaki (which was pretty heavily damaged in the quake). From there, there’s a ferry (or perhaps… there was a ferry?) that can take you to Tashirojima. We took a cab from the train station to the harbor with the ferry.

Should You Go?

If you like cats, then yeah, it’s awesome. It’s a bit out of the way, and definitely would be considered “rural.” There are places to stay, but the main one (the one with cat shaped buildings) is closed part of the year (for winter). You can definitely make this a day trip (it’s pretty easy to walk across the island in a couple hours, even if you look at things along the way). There isn’t much in the way of places to eat, though depending on when you’re there you might be able to find something. Still, I’d recommend bringing lunch / dinner just in case. Also, bring cat food / treats! It’ll make the cats love you, I’m sure.

You can find more travel information on the island here, though they haven’t (as of writing this) posted anything about the earthquake.

Pictures From “Cat Island Part 1″

These are some pictures that were taken during part 1 of Cat Island. You can view more of these / higher resolution version of these in the TofuguTV Flickr Set.

Getting ready to get on the ferry to head off to Cat Island

On the ferry

Arriving at Cat Island

Shinnosuke walking up from the dock

Heading up the stairs to the temple

Lots of stairs

Left at the Cat Shrine

Cat Shrine on Cat Island

Left at the Cat Shrine

Cat Shrine, Again

A view of all the stuff left behind for the Cat Shrine

The old school

The View from up top

A couple of tourists to the island who came to take pictures

Apparently they’re really into cats…

The next episode will have a lot more cats, I promise! Thanks for waiting all this time, I’ll hopefully get the next episode out a lot quicker than this one. Maybe in two weeks? Hopefully editing will get better too – still learning how to do stuff! :)

To know when the next episode comes out, be sure to follow on Twitter, Like on Facebook, or Subscribe on YouTube (RSS works too).

  • http://twitter.com/SuperNoonim SykoRyoko

    ugh cat island has to be the best place ever. i want to live there forever ;~;

    akjgjakhgd i love this video. oh god lol “where is cat” i’m dying.

    this whole video is killing me.

  • http://twitter.com/fembassist Jenny

    Thanks for uploading this. It will be nice to see, and you’re lucky you came before the earthquake. Right now the threat of the nuclear plant is still in the news so people really need to stay away from the entire area.

  • http://www.tofugu.com koichi

    haha, you’ll enjoy episode 2, then, because there’s going to be a lot more cats in that one…

    P.S. Don’t die of video watching before you actually get there!

  • http://www.tofugu.com koichi

    We’ll see how the nuclear plant thing goes (and I hope it’s fine!) – It just feels like stuff is getting out of hand in the media, and news are just reporting on whatever is scariest, even if it’s not completely/at all accurate :( Hopefully it is indeed okay, though – I’m sure whatever happens, people will be safe about it and it’ll work out fine in the end!

  • http://twitter.com/SuperNoonim SykoRyoko

    haha I just reaaaallly like cats. (who doesn’t? :D) I can’t waiiiiit. when do you think you’re gonna post it?

    haaaha I’ll try my best.

  • Reynoldsa14

    How long has it been since that school was in session, do you know?

  • http://twitter.com/SuperNoonim SykoRyoko

    From what I’ve read it seems like a lot of scaremongering (especially on the western media’s part) and not as much fact. I dunno how much you’ve read/seen so I don’t wanna preach to the choir or anything haha.

  • http://twitter.com/edgarjon Jon

    Great! Thanks for the first episode Koichi! Can’t wait for further episodes of TofuguTV!!!

  • Nishimichild

    Ne, what’s happening at Tashirojima as far as the earthquake/tsunami/radiation is concerned? Sendai must be pretty near there.

  • Jack

    AWESOME!!!! Nice first episode and nice music choice.

  • http://www.tofugu.com koichi

    Yeah, I’m pretty much just sitting back and waiting until things have already unfolded… not point watching things that are most likely scaremongering… funny how accurate news suddenly gets when the news has already happened :(

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001965332023 Shane Mousseau

    i love cats, but i hate nature! as far as the long awaited first episode of tofuguTV goes, it was pretty good, i like the format of the show more than i thought i would. and i hope all the cats are okay after the quake!

  • http://twitter.com/SuperNoonim SykoRyoko

    Yeah…the only “news” I’m really taking to heart is what my friends are telling me.

    Half the things I saw reported there for a while were being taken back only a few hours after they were said/posted. I think that’s calmed down a little but I haven’t been watching American/Western news so…I’m not really a good source lol.

    8| If this double posts, I’m so sorry.

  • http://twitter.com/riChchestMat Chris Matchett

    I want to know too

  • kmost0

    me too.
    the cat island seems dangerously close to the tsunami coast :(

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000353084723 Momen Adas

    Koichi, that was awesome! I couldn’t expect more ^^ Although I have a phobia concerning cats, after watching this video I can see they are really adorable! You made me want to travel to Japan even more! I wonder, however, how long should I wait before things become stable there. I’m waiting for the next part :^)

  • http://twitter.com/21tigermike Michael A. Robson

    Funny show!

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  • Pikachuandpiplup90

    Did you see any Maneki Neko?

  • http://www.tofugu.com koichi

    hmmm, for Cat Island in particular, I’d be 6-12 months – that area was pretty hard hit. Everywhere else (besides the earthquake area) should be fine, though! You should go visit and help the economy (and enjoy yourself!) in a month or two when things settle down!

  • http://www.tofugu.com koichi

    See “Earthquake Info” in the article… summary: No news seems reliable :(

  • http://www.tofugu.com koichi

    no promises… but hopefully within 2 weeks! Sadly, I can’t edit video every day all day, though that’d be fun! :(

  • http://www.tofugu.com koichi

    There was one in a shop we went into later, but not particularly. You a fan of Maneki Neko? :D

  • http://www.tofugu.com koichi

    Yeah! I feel lucky they let me use their music. Nice guys and good musicians = +1

  • http://www.tofugu.com koichi

    Thanks Shane! Much appreciated!

    I hope everyone’s okay too! :(

  • http://www.tofugu.com koichi

    Apparently 1989 is when the school closed down, but it was converted to an “educational center,” which closed down in 2008.

  • http://www.facebook.com/raul.tapiaiii Raul Tapia III

    Reviews are coming in: Cats everywhere are giving “Cat Island, Japan: Part 1″ not 2 but 4 paws up!
    “Meeeeowww” ~ CatChat Times
    “Puuuurfect” ~ Fancy Cat Nip Chronicles

    Anticipation sets in for Part 2!!!!!

  • Maestro

    Your site is hyper cool. May I suggest adding subtitles to the japanese conversation? Keep fighting the good fight, soldier.

  • http://www.tofugu.com koichi

    Hahaha, this is the best review, ever!

  • http://www.tofugu.com koichi

    working on soft subs for it, though probably won’t be for a little while, now I’m behind on other stuff! :(

  • http://www.facebook.com/ADMINRUMBEA By-Lenin Adm Rumbea
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  • http://twitter.com/mikotoneko Mikoto Neko

    Awesome Episode Koichi. As always you never fail to deliver epic goodness. I can’t wait for the next episode!

  • http://twitter.com/SuperNoonim SykoRyoko

    haha okay. thanks for letting me know~ good luck. ^^

  • Anonymous
  • Alessia

    Yay! I was feeling frustrated too, but the cat at 13:59 is so cute it was worth the long walk :) Thank you very much for sharing this, feels like I was visiting the island too… I’m looking forward to the next episode!

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  • Pikachuandpiplup90

    Yeah there lucky cats always nice to have around. Just outta curiosity did any cats resemble them?

  • Pikachuandpiplup90

    I myself am very excited for Part 2 just to see what Shin-Chan and Koichi are gonna go through.

  • 透明人間

    Hrrnnn, I think I wouldn’t want to leave without a cat.
    I wonder if Shinnosuke understood your morbid ramblings. MAYBE THE RAVEN IS EATING CATS

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1782213979 Heidi Momo Merk

    just wanna roll around in a field of cats!! …hmm i bet they have that there… ;p oh and do people there keep any of the cats as pets or do they all just chill out wherever…

  • xiongmao

    really nicely put together! it was worth the wait :D
    i hope this turns out a success for you because damn would i love for Tofugu TV to be a permanent venture!!!

  • Anonymous

    Shinnosuke was hilarious, and were you repping the Celtics with your sweatshirt?

  • Jack

    What’s the name of that particular song?????

  • Anonymous

    Dear customers, thank you for your support of our company.
    Here, there’s good news to tell you: The company recently
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    welcome to :===== www. soozone.com========
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  • http://nihonamor.wordpress.com/ ビッキ

    “If you’re old and you have a heart attack the cats can eat you and you’ll be helping the cats” LMAO favorite line! You’re crazy, Koichi!

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  • http://www.tofugu.com koichi