Tashirojima

Cats. Either you love them or you hate them, but they’re not an animal you can really ignore, persistent and common as they are. The Japanese have an interesting relationship with cats, especially in modern culture – Hello Kitty, just for starters.

In another article we have had a quick look at Okunoshima, or rather Rabbit Island, an island overrun with tame rabbits that will flock to you the second they smell something edible. Of course, it doesn’t stop there. Just when you thought an island filled with bunnies would be the line, you realize there’s more – a lot more in fact. Tashirojima, is as you’ve probably guessed, similar to Okunoshima, but instead of rabbits being the rulers of the island, this one is filled with wild cats.

On this island, the cats heavily outnumber the people – not all that hard when the community inhabiting the island numbers only around 100 or so, however they like the fact that they are more likely to run into a feline than their own neighbors. The fact that there are so many cats on the island is no coincidence – however unlike the bunnies from the sister island, they weren’t placed there as subjects for chemical weaponry testing. The locals of Tashirojima have always believed cats to be signs of good luck and have thus treated cats better than some humans treat other humans – caring for them, feeding them and bringing more cats to the island, resulting in what is now likely one of the densest population of cats per square mile on a single piece of land, a true heaven for the feline lover and a real tourist magnet.

Given the royalty status the cats enjoy here, it is not surprising that they aren’t kept as pets, as that would be inappropriate. Interestingly enough, the population has dwindled down from what used to be 1000 to what is now 100 – and despite this, the cats are more fiercely protected than ever, with dogs even being banned from the island as whole. Then again, any dog that would find themselves on an island dominated by felines isn’t likely to enjoy the experience for very long regardless.

Image by atlasobscura.com