Cats are King on Tashirojima Island
Tashirojima (田代島) is a small island in Ishinomaki, Miyagi, Japan. It is a small island with a population of around 100 people. Known as “Cat Island” due to the number of cats living on the island. The locals believe that feeding the cats will bring wealth and good fortune. The cats are so revered it is forbidden to bring a dog onto the island. The cats are definitely kings here. So here’s all we know about cat island, Tashirojima, Japan.
Buses go to the ferry terminal from Ishinomaki Railway Station, however, we took a taxi from our hotel.
Three ferries operate each way per day. Make sure you arrive on time to get your ticket from the terminal before boarding the ferry.
There is a toilet and vending machines at the terminal.
The cost for a single journey is around ¥1230 (about £4.70)
Nitoda is the larger of the two settlements. It’s the second stop on the ferry so get off here. You can see Nitoda on the bottom right of the map.
When you are at the ferry terminal you can see the redevelopment of the area due to the Tohoku Tsunami.
This sign shows the level of the water during the tsunami.
Redevelopment of Ishinomaki harbour.
The ferry is comfortable with an inside and outside seating area.
Local children were feeding crisps to the seagulls.
The port area in Nitoda is very new, we assumed part of the post-tsunami reconstruction. Here we saw our first cat, OK just painted but we were here!
I’m sure the cats know when the ferry is due, a lone floofy man was sunning himself beside some appropriate fencing.
Word soon got around what time it was…
The village, and the island is very easy to walk around. We wandered around at a cats pace in the sun. There isn’t much to do tourism wise on the island. A shop, cat shrine, museum and a temple. There are no restaurants and the only public toilet is at the port. There are vending machines (surprise!) at the fisheries building.
We were here for the cats so off we went.
Mr Foodie was popular
We wandered further into the island to seek the Cat Shrine. It’s a beautiful island, peaceful and left to nature.
We passed a disused school, and were welcomed by a couple of kittehs.
Soon enough we found the cat shrine.
The shrine, also known as Neko-jinja (猫神社), is located in the middle of the island, roughly situated between the two villages.
In the island’s past, silkworms were raised to make silk and cats were kept in order to keep the mouse population in check. The cats would wander around the island, hang out with the fisherman for their scraps and be part of the community. According to local legend, 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.
Of course, we had a couple of friendly cats to keep us company.
A walk back into Nitoda and up the hill towards the manga hotel. Tashirojima Island is also known as Manga Island due to these cat-shaped buildings.
We did of course receive a welcome…
and then found some cat puddles on the ground and on the table.
Some more wandering led us to the other side of Nitoda to the more rugged edge of the coast.
Sadly it was time to go home, we waved goodbye to our furry friends and boarded the ferry.