tashiro jima

Japan Spotlight – Tashiro-jima (Cat Island)

Tashiro-jima is a small island off the mainland of Japan in Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture. It doesn’t have a large population, consisting of approximately 100 which is down from the 1000 that inhabited the island during the 50’s. One of the reasons the island is well known is for its other name – Cat Island.

Tashiro-jima happens to have a large number of felines that live on the island who stay healthy by people feeding them. It’s believed that feeding the cats delivers both good fortune and wealth, which allows the cat population to be constantly growing. In fact, the population of the felines now out numbers humans and according to an article in Sankei News from 2009, states that there are no dogs on the island and it is actually forbidden to bring them to the island.

There is also a cat shrine called Neko-jinja located in the middle of the island, situated between two villages. The island used to raise silkworms for the silk which naturally attracted mice, being a natural predator of the silkworms. The cat population helped this production as the cats kept the mice population to a minimum. The Miyagi prefecture is home to at least 10 cat shrines going along with the 51 monuments made of stone.

Below you’ll see a gallery of Cat Island taken by photographer, Fubirai, where he spent the past 5 years taking pictures of the cats and getting to know them.

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