Cat Island Of Japan: Tashiro-jima Has 100 Residents, And Hundreds More Felines [VIDEO]

By iScienceTimes Staff on June 12, 2013 3:34 PM EDT

cat island
In Japan, Tashiro-jima, or Cat Island, is home to hundreds of cats, which far outnumber the island's 100 residents. Above, one cat from the island. (Photo: Flickr: takefumi)

Tashiro-jima is the name of an island in Japan which translates as "Cat Island," and with very good reason: the island has more cats than people.

On Cat Island, which is off the coast of central Ishinomaki City in Miyagi Prefecture, the many hundreds of felines outnumber the 100 permanent residents. The residents of Cat Island are mostly over the age of 65, and used to be far numerous, numbering 1,000 at one point.

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Tashiro-jima was a popular stop for fisherman in the 1800s. Cats would often beg for food from the fisherman, and a lore emerged around the felines. The fisherman believed the cats were good luck and could predict fish patterns. According to one of the island's legends, one day a fisherman was collecting rocks, and one rock fell and killed a cat. He buried the cat and built a shrine to it.

There are 10 cat shrines now on Tashiro-jima, as well as numerous cat-shaped buildings and 51 cat-shaped monuments.

There are also 51 cat-shaped monuments, as well as cat-shaped buildings -- complete with "ears" on the roof -- that dot the island.

According to Japan Guide, the cats were originally brought to Tashiro-jima to control pests that disrupted the island's silkworm farms. Though most sources simply list the number of cats at "hundreds," Japan Guide more precisely says that cats outnumber the residents by "almost four to one."

Tashiro-jima is also known as "Manga Island," says Japan Guide, due to a manga-themed camping resort on the island's southern. The resort features cat-shaped cottages and cat artwork drawn by famous manga artists such as Ishinomori Shotaro and Chiba Tetsuya.

Fittingly, dogs are prohibited from Cat Island.

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