Nekojima - Meet 20 Cats Islands in Japan


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If you are a cat lover, you must have noticed the influences that cats have in Japan. Throughout the history of Japan, some islands have been dominated by cats, even having more cats than people. In this article we will see 20 of these islands.

For these islands the Japanese created the expression Nekojima [猫島] which literally means island of cats. According to my research, there are about 20 islands that can be called Nekojima, but there are certainly other places full of cats.

Why are there so many islands filled with Cats in Japan?

What few know is that cats dominate several islands in addition to Japan. This happens a lot on islands where there are many fishermen. We already know that the cat is Japan's favorite animal, so where there is fish there is cat.

Most fishing islands are full of cats. Cats are definitely animals that you will probably find in the middle of mountains and islands. I came across several cats myself when I climbed the torii mountain in Kyoto.

Another factor is that many of these islands are small and have a low population, often without control, so the presence of cats ends up over the decades increasing with the breeding. This has already happened even with rabbits.

Nekojima – conheça 20 ilhas dos gatos no japão

Tashirojima - The biggest cat island

One of the biggest islands is called Tashirojima located in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture. There are more cats on this island than residents. The island has approximately 100 inhabitants, it is famous and known as Cat Island.

Cats are believed to make the island thrive, there is even a cat sanctuary called Neko-Jinja. This sanctuary was built after an accident where a rock that fishermen were using, fell and killed a cat.

In a way they are right, thanks to the huge population of cats, the island has become famous, and attracts many tourists from all over the world, and passionate about cats.

Conheça as ilhas dominadas por gatos no japão - ilha dos gatos

Several blogs were created, and the island even won a film with the name of Nyanko the Movie. In addition, the island is known for its cat-like inns. Despite tourism, this island has an uncertain future.

Tashirojima's cats are well cared for, but humans are getting older, and the island is running out of inhabitants, hopefully this problem will be solved.

Aoshima - More cats than humans

Aoshima located in Ehime is another island with more cats than humans. There are only about 20 residents on the island and more than 100 cats. It is believed that the cats were taken by fishermen in order to end the rats.

Unfortunately the island has not turned this proliferation of cats into a tourist spot. If you want to visit Aoshima, you will need to take a ferry that only appears twice a day. There are no hotels or restaurants on the island.

When trying to search, be careful not to get confused, as there are many islands with the name Aoshima, as well as locations, train lines and even ships with that name. Although flashy, I do not believe it is the best option to see cats.

Nekojima – conheça 20 ilhas dos gatos no japão

Enoshima - Cat Island in Tokyo

For those who die near Tokyo, there is Enoshima in Kanagawa Prefecture. The island is located in Kanagawa Prefecture and is famous for its beaches, caves, museums and sanctuaries. From 1980 the island began to fill with cats, which can be found all over the island.

This island is a perfect tourist spot where we even wrote an article about Enoshima, known as the island of padlocks. It is accessible by a 600 meter bridge, has many tourist attractions and even a beautiful view of the hill fuji.

On the island it is possible to donate money for food and contraceptive surgeries. Most cats are not afraid of people because tourists and fishermen who like cats feed them. A perfect spot for cat lovers.

Okishima - Island in Lake Biwa

It is not a common island, as it is located in the center of the great Lake Biwa, the largest freshwater lake in Japan located in Shiga, very accessible for those in the Kyoto region. The small island in the middle of the lake also has its history.

Seven samurai were fighting in a small civil war called the Hōgen Rebellion, after the sad defeat, they had to take refuge in Okishima. According to legend, they left human and feline descendants.

Nekojima – conheça 20 ilhas dos gatos no japão

Other islands of Gatos

We will briefly describe some other cat islands below:

Iwaishima - Nuclear Cats

Today, it is an unpopulated area that makes a living from fishing and organic farming. The island has already run the “danger” of owning a nuclear plant, but the population has prevented its construction.

Muzukijima - Laranjeiras Island

Unlike the others, Muzukijima is famous for its orange and tangerine orchards. Can you imagine the wonderful smell this island must have? Imagine this island with a lot of kittens running around?

Ainoshima - Paraíso dos Gatos Island

This island is known as Cat Heaven Island or Paraíso dos Gatos. It is easily accessible by ferry which is close to the train station at Kokura port in Kitakyushu Fukuouka. The terrain is perfect for hiking with cats.

Kadarashima - The island without dogs

This island has a legend that says a dog has won the ire of a deity from the Yasaka shrine on the island. For this reason the species was extinguished from the island, leaving only felines. It is possible to see South Korea at some points on this remote island.

Nekojima – conheça 20 ilhas dos gatos no japão

List of islands dominated by cats

We promise to talk about 20 cat islands in this article, but we can't talk about all of them, since some are just small islands with nothing to declare, others with cat control plans or some don't even live in people.

So we will list the 20 islands promised below, if you want to know more details about them, you can do a precise search on Wikipedia Japanese. There you will find geographic, geological information, history, residents and animal life.

  1. Tashirojima (田代島) Miyagi;
  2. Yushima (湯島) in Kumamoto Prefecture;
  3. Kakarashima (加唐島) in Saga Prefecture;
  4. Muzukijima (睦月島) in Ehime province;
  5. Genkaishima (玄界島) in Fukuoka Prefecture;
  6. Ainoshima (相島) in Fukuoka;
  7. Ainoshima (藍島) in Fukuoka;
  8. Umashima (馬島) in Fukuoka;
  9. Iwaishima (祝島) in Yamaguchi Prefecture;
  10. Manabeshima (真鍋島) in Okayama Prefecture;
  11. Sanagishima (佐柳島) in Kagawa Prefecture;
  12. Okishima (沖島) floating island in the middle of Biwako in Shiga;
  13. Teuritou (天売島) island in Hokkaido;
  14. Jikinejima (式根島) southeast of Niijima;
  15. Sakushima (佐久島) remote island in Mikawa Bay;
  16. Ogijima (男木島) island in Bisan Seto;
  17. Shishijima (志 々 島) in the Shiozawa Islands;
  18. Aoshima (青島) island in Ehime;
  19. Fukashima (深島) in Kamaeura Oita;
  20. Oushima (黄島) in Goto, Nagasaki;

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