The Cat Island, officially called Tashirojima, is a small island in Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan, that is inhabited by more cats than people. The island has become known as "Cat Island" due to the large stray cat population that thrives as a result of the local belief that feeding cats will bring wealth and good fortune. The cat population is now larger than the human population on the island.
But Tashirojima doesn’t have too many humans to begin with. There are approximately 100 residents on Cat Island, and most of them are over 70. One person is 37, and everybody else is over 60 years old. With more than 50% of the population being over 65 years of age, the survival of the island is threatened. It won’t be long before the four footed animal end up being the only living being on the Cat island.
In the past, the islanders raised silkworms for silk, and cats were kept in order to keep the mouse population down (because mice are a natural predator of silkworms). Fixed-net fishing was popular on the island after the Edo Period and fishermen from other areas would come and stay on the island overnight. The cats would go to the inns where the fishermen were staying and beg for scraps. Over time, the fishermen developed a fondness for the cats and would observe the cats closely, interpreting their actions as predictions of the weather and fish patterns. 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.
Tashirojima, the Cat Island
The Cat Shrine
Cats are so popular here that a local architect had several building built in the shape of cats.
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