Tashirojima (Cat Island)
For friends of felines.
With cat-themed accommodation and a feline population that greatly outnumbers the human residents, this tiny island is heaven for ailurophiles. Tashirojima is a rural island off the coast of Ishinomaki in Miyagi Prefecture. With access from the nearest big city Sendai, it’s definitely worth a day trip or even an overnight. With a population of under 100 people (most of whom are elderly) and fishing as its main industry, the island is not the most obvious tourist destination. You only have to step off the ferry, however, to see its appeal.
Better known as one of Japan’s famous “Cat Islands,” Tashirohima is home to several hundred friendly felines. They are thought to be descendants of cats originally brought to the island during the Edo period to help control the mouse population and protect the area’s silkworm farms. The cats are still considered to be lucky today, and there’s even a shrine near the middle of the island dedicated to its feline residents.
Nowadays these bundles of fluff spend their time playing with visitors, posing for photos, and lounging around in the sun looking cute to the delight of tourists and locals alike!
If you’re looking to make an overnight trip to Tashirojima, there’s no better way to complete your cat island experience than by staying in cat-themed accommodation. In the southern part of the island, you’ll find a camping resort called Manga Island. It’s open from April to October, and alongside the campsite it features five adorable cat-shaped cabins for rent that were designed by manga artists. (On the mainland area, manga lovers should also check out Ishinomori Manga Museum.)
Know before you go
There are limited attractions and facilities for tourists on the island, so it’s advisable to bring your own food and drink (and cat snacks!) with you. Visitors are asked to take all their garbage home with them. Dogs are not allowed on the island.
Not visiting Miyagi but still looking for kitties? Check out one of Japan’s other cat islands, Aoshima, in Ehime Prefecture.