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Tue, 1 Oct ’13

Whisk(er) Yourself Away to Japan’s Cat Islands

The views are picture purr-fect.

It’s not small secret that Japan has an obsession with adorable cats. From the omnipresent gaze of Hello kitty to the much sought after cat cafes, it’s hard to imagine the island nation without a furry feline within arm’s reach. Well, for the truly cat crazy folks out there, Japan has not one, but two floating paradises known as “Cat Island”. Imagine, if you will, a pussycat paradise where dogs aren’t permitted and meowing mouths lurk around every corner. For “Manga Island” and Aoshima, there’s no imagination necessary; it’s their everyday life.

The delightfully named “Manga Island” isn’t a Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs-type land where everything and everyone is plucked from the pages of your favorite manga. Rather, the island near Miyagi Prefecture called Tashirojima derives its name from the fact that Cyborg 009 mangaka Shotaro Ishinomori designed special cat-shaped buildings in which visitors can stay and a gift shop that sells exclusive manga art amongst other things. In the past, the island kept cats around to eat mice who would eat the silkworms the fisherman needed to make fishing nets. Believing that their furry friends brought them good luck, the islanders make it a point of pride to stop and pet, feed and care for the cats, who are visited by vets and tabby-crazed travelers regularly. Don’t even think about bringing Fido along though because dogs are not allowed on the island, which makes sense considering that the cats outnumber the actual people on the island.

Speaking of being outnumbered, Aoshima, in Ehime Prefecture, has just sixteen human beings living on it, so it is a cat colony of the first order. The island recently gained fame amongst Japanese netizens after Twitter user Kolmetoista visited and took pictures of its multitude of meowing residents. From alleyways to main thoroughfares, from atop fences to beneath bushes, you would be hard pressed to take a step without bumping into a kawaii kitty. Would you visit one of Japan’s Cat Islands? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter!