Feline internet stars like Grumpy Cat, Little Bub, Nala and Waffles have done well to cement 'cat-mania' around the world. But living among humans, they remain an existential minority. If there is one place on earth where all cats are spoiled like the infamous celebrity charmers, it is none other than Tashirojima - an island ruled by cats.
Tashirojima is located off the coast of Ishinomaki City in Japan's Miyagi prefecture. It has a total land area of 1.21 square kilometers. Once settled by more than 1000 inhabitants, Tashirojima is now designated as a "terminal village" with its small fishing community reduced to 22 elderly folks as its permanent residents.
History of Cat Population Boom
Curiously, Tashirojima has more than a century of thriving relationship between cats and humans. During the 1800's (Late Edo Period), this island was an important silk plantation. People own cats as an efficient means of pest control. Because of the cats' uncanny ability to cue weather portents, the island's fishermen allegedly prospered.
More fish? More chow for them fur babies! Since then, the locals make a habit of spoiling cats with surplus catches and leftovers. Today, cats have outnumbered human beings nearly 5 times.
Your Overnight Itinerary
One can reach Tashirojima via a $10.55 worth ferry ride. Upon reaching the wharf, you can easily attract the adorable horde with a bag of treats. Yes, never forget to pay tribute to the rulers! You can spend the entire day walking around the island and the four-legged guardians are more likely to trail behind (until they find you boring).
Uphill from the port, the famous Cat Shrine keeps figurines and offerings from other visitors. And yes, pay homage to the rulers' ancestors too! In case you may forget, the prohibition on bringing a dog is a no-brainer. Apart from possible mortal wounds, feral cats will leave them with a permanent psychological trauma.
If you are seeking a place to sleep, the most interesting and accessible accommodation is the 'Manga Resort' - an open tourist campsite with a deluxe 8-person cat-shaped cottage. There are also 7 cozy guesthouses, all of which requiring early reservations.
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