Inside Japan’s cat island where felines are worshipped at an altar and said to bring good luck

Inside Japan’s cat island where felines are worshipped at an altar and said to bring good luck

There are 100 cats in Tashirojima and only 50 humans.

ADVERTISEMENT

Cats as far as the eye can see: your idea of heaven or hell?

Tashirojima, off Japan’s northeastern coast, is home to more than 100 cats, leaving space for only 50 humans.

Along a paved road running two kilometres between the island’s two ports, cats groom themselves and mingle with other cats.

Everything is built around their comfort, so you won’t find any car rental shops, petrol stations or public transportation here. Tourists are expected to walk up and down the island’s hills while visiting. Most of the cats are used to tourists, who can be seen petting the friendly animals throughout the island.

There are a few cafes in Tashirojima where, you guessed it, the cats are fed.

Fishermen on the island have traditionally believed that cats bring good luck, including large hauls of fish.

Another legend says fishermen used to watch the cats’ behaviour for tips on the coming weather before heading out to sea.

The islanders have long coexisted with the cats

One day, however, a fisherman accidentally injured a cat while working. Feeling sorry for the injury, the islanders built the shrine for cats.

Now, visitors make offerings at the shrine.

The ‘Neko Jinja,’ or Cat Shrine, mythologises cats as guardian angels of Tashirojima.

Legend says the island used to be famous for sericulture and farmers would keep cats because they would chase away rats, protecting the silkworm cocoons from the rodents.

Leave a Reply