Tashirojima, also known as "Cat Island" is a small island off the coast of Japan where the cats outnumber human inhabitants.. The cats are well fed, and people believe that they represent luck and good fortune.
Tashirojima is an island in Ishinomaki, Miyagi, Japan. The island is also known as Manga and houses two villages and a human population of around 100. A very unique character of the island is its large population of cats. Cats were originally introduced to the island by the residents to eat the rats that fed on the silk-worms. The Japanese cultural belief that a cat is a symbol of a good luck, and there is a high probability of getting money or fortune after coming upon a cat. Thanks to a steady growth over time, feline residents are now said to outnumber human ones 6:1.
The island's economic activities are fishing and hospitality. Over time, the fishermen became fond of the cats because they could help them predict weather and the patterns of the fish.
Tashirojima's uniqueness is related to a number of facts, besides the disproportionate ratio of humans and cats. Despite their booming population, cats are usually well taken care of by the people living here, instead of being persecuted as pests. The human population of the island is also constituted mainly by people aged 60 and above since many of the young people leave the island in search of better work opportunities.
In the middle of the island, around the two villages, there is a small cat shrine. It came to be after a rock accidentally hit a cat, and a fisherman felt sorry and buried and enshrined it. This fact also clearly exhibits the love of the people for the cats living here. No dogs are allowed on the island. Therefore, visitors are advised not to come with their dogs. Some people believe that it was the feline population that prevented the majority of the island from extreme destruction during the tsunami and earthquake in 2011. The island is also home to a cat photo competition.
The island has become a major tourist attraction for cat lovers, with people traveling from all over the world to see it. A return ferry runs three times a day from the city of Ishinomaki, giving eager visitors easy access. It is also possible to spend an overnight visit on the island, with the option of spending the night in cat shaped cottages.
Tashirojima is susceptible to natural disasters as it is a small island and a large tsunami could wipe out the entire population. Global warming induced sea-level rise might also threaten the population of people and cats living here.
There is a threat to the human population on the island because the majority are over 65 years. In the coming years, the people may become extinct since the old cannot reproduce more offsprings. The island has been named the "terminal village."