Video Credit to Reuters
The small island of Tashirojima may just need to be added to the top of your list of places to visit. Why? Because it’s inhabited by only about a hundred people – and several hundred cats! …and the people like it that way.
The story is that the cats were originally raised on the island to help keep the mice away back when the occupants raised silkworms. Later, when the island became a popular fishing area, fishermen believed the cats would bring luck and prosperity.
No one on the island is a dog person, that’s for sure. In fact, dogs aren’t even allowed on the island in order to protect the cats!
Tashirojima is a dwindling fishing community, where it’s human residents are mostly elderly and most of the residents
moved away years ago because of the growing cat population. The population of “Cat Island” was closer to 1,000 in 1950. But what it lacks in fishing prosperity, the island is making up for with it’s growing tourism industry – thanks to all those cats.
There is now a resort on the island, and vacation homes designed by famous manga artist Shotaro Ishinomori, that are shaped and decorated like cats. There are also cat shrines around the island.
There is a small cat shrine, known as Neko-jinja (猫神社), in the middle of the island, roughly situated between the two villages. ….. 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.
There are at least ten cat shrines in Miyagi Prefecture. There are also 51 stone monuments in the shape of cats, which is an unusually high number compared to the other prefectures. In particular, these shrines and monuments are concentrated in the southern area of the island, overlapping with the regions where silkworms were raised.
Luckily, the island was spared by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that shook Japan. They were short on food and there was a lot of debris in the water, but all of the islands inhabitants survived, including the cats.
It’s reported that the cats of Tashirojima are well cared for by the residents of the island who love them.