Discovering Japan’s Cat Islands: A Purr-fect Adventure Awaits

When you think of Japan, images of bustling cities, serene temples, and delicious cuisine probably come to mind. But did you know that Japan is also home to several “Cat Islands,” where feline residents outnumber humans? These islands are a paradise for cat lovers and curious travelers alike. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the fascinating world of Japan’s Cat Islands, focusing on the most famous ones: Aoshima, Tashiro-jima, and Manabeshima. We’ll provide detailed information on each island, how to get there, and what makes them unique. So, grab your cat ears and let’s embark on this whiskered journey!

Japan’s Cat Islands have captivated the hearts of many worldwide. These islands are not just about the sheer number of cats; they offer a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. Let’s start with the most famous cat island of all: Aoshima.

Aoshima: The Quintessential Cat Island

Located in the Ehime Prefecture, Aoshima is often referred to as “Cat Island.” It’s the epitome of a feline paradise with over 120 cats, vastly outnumbering the human population of 15-20 residents. Here’s what you need to know before planning your visit:

  • Population: Approximately 120 cats and 15-20 humans.
  • Accessibility: The island is accessible via two ferries per day from Matsuyama. Be sure to plan your trip carefully as the access is limited.
  • Amenities: Aoshima lacks modern amenities such as cars, hotels, restaurants, and vending machines. This makes it a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.
  • History: Cats were initially introduced to the island to combat a rodent problem. Over time, the feline population grew, turning Aoshima into the cat haven it is today.
  • Tourism: While the island has gained popularity online, visitors are encouraged to respect the local residents and the cats. Feeding the cats is discouraged as they are well taken care of by the island’s inhabitants.

The charm of Aoshima is best captured through vivid descriptions and photographs. Imagine cats lounging around the port, exploring abandoned schools, or being fed by the local caregiver. The first content from The Atlantic captures this essence beautifully, providing a snapshot of life on Aoshima as of February 25, 2015.

Tashiro-jima: The Island with a Cat Temple

Next on our feline itinerary is Tashiro-jima, located in the Miyagi Prefecture. Known for its unique blend of cats and culture, this island is a must-visit.

  • Population: Around 100 humans and a similar number of cats.
  • Accessibility: Reachable by ferry from Ishinomaki Port.
  • Cultural Significance: Tashiro-jima is home to a temple dedicated to cats, reflecting the deep respect and reverence the local population has for these animals. Interestingly, dogs are not allowed on the island to maintain harmony.
  • Tourism: The island offers a unique cultural experience with its cat shrine and traditional Japanese architecture.

Manabeshima: The Artist’s Cat Island

Manabeshima, located in the Okayama Prefecture, is less frequented but equally enchanting. This island has gained recognition thanks to a French artist who documented his stay.

  • Population: Fewer than 300 humans, with cats outnumbering them.
  • Accessibility: Accessible via a train to Kasaoka Station followed by a ferry ride.
  • Cultural Influence: Unlike the other cat islands, Manabeshima offers a peaceful coexistence of humans and cats, making it an ideal spot for artists and nature lovers.
  • Tourism: The island’s serene environment and artistic significance make it a unique destination.

To help you plan your trip, we’ve compiled a comprehensive table with key information about each island:

IslandPrefecturePopulation (Human)Population (Cat)AccessDistinct Features
AoshimaEhime15-20120+2 ferries per day from MatsuyamaNo cars, hotels, or restaurants. Cats introduced to control rodents.
Tashiro-jimaMiyagi~100100+Ferry from Ishinomaki PortCat temple, no dogs allowed.
ManabeshimaOkayama<300NumerousTrain + ferry from Kasaoka StationArtistic influence, peaceful coexistence of cats and humans.

Tips for Visiting Japan’s Cat Islands

Visiting these islands requires a bit of planning and respect for the local culture and residents. Here are some tips to ensure a pleasant and respectful visit:

  • Plan Ahead: Due to limited access, make sure to check the ferry schedules and plan your trip accordingly.
  • Respect the Residents: While the cats are the main attraction, remember that people live on these islands. Avoid disturbing the locals and their daily routines.
  • Do Not Feed the Cats: The cats are well taken care of by the residents. Feeding them could disrupt their diet and health.
  • Pack Essentials: Since amenities are limited, bring your own food, water, and other necessities.
  • Embrace the Experience: Take your time to explore and enjoy the unique ambiance of each island. Whether it’s the cultural richness of Tashiro-jima or the artistic vibe of Manabeshima, there’s something special about each place.

FAQs about Japan’s Cat Islands

How Many Cat Islands Are There in Japan?

Japan boasts several cat islands, with Aoshima, Tashiro-jima, and Manabeshima being the most famous. However, there are other lesser-known islands where cats thrive.

Where is Cat Island Located in Japan?

  • Aoshima: Ehime Prefecture
  • Tashiro-jima: Miyagi Prefecture
  • Manabeshima: Okayama Prefecture

Is There a Cat Island Near Tokyo?

While there isn’t a cat island directly near Tokyo, you can visit Enoshima, which is a short trip from Tokyo and has a significant cat population, though it’s not as famous as the other cat islands.

How to Get to Cat Island Japan?

Each cat island has its own access points, usually involving a combination of trains and ferries. It’s essential to check the local ferry schedules as they can be limited.

Japan’s Cat Islands offer a unique and enchanting experience for cat lovers and travelers alike. From the bustling feline population of Aoshima to the cultural richness of Tashiro-jima and the artistic tranquility of Manabeshima, each island has its charm. By planning ahead and respecting the local customs, you can enjoy a memorable visit to these whiskered paradises. So, why not add a cat island adventure to your travel bucket list? After all, in Japan, the land of the rising sun, the cats are waiting to welcome you with open paws.


I’m Ren Nakamura, a native of Japan and an explorer at heart. My passion lies in unveiling the intricate blend of tradition and innovation that defines Japanese culture. From the dynamic world of anime and games to the rich tapestry of arts and the culinary delights of my homeland, I strive to bring you captivating tales and insights. Join me as we delve into the enchanting world of Japan, one story at a time. Wanna know more about me ?