We are about to blow your minds: Japan has a multitude of "cat islands." They are, quite honestly, dream places for cat lovers everywhere.
Japan is a land for all things kawaii. (Definition: cute!) Yes indeed, the Asian country is full of countless kawaii things, from being the birthplace of manga (a specific style of graphic novels), to their major obsession with the kawaii culture that includes everything from food to toys to pop culture (and like, um, fashion choices), Japan is seriously the place for all things CUTE. We also can't forget about Japan's "Fox Village"!
But what's cuter than an island full of cats, so much so that cats outnumber humans? Well, Japan's also got you covered. Earning the Japanese nickname "Nekojima" (meaning "cat island"), these Japanese islands have a dense feline population, and that's putting it lightly; These islands actually have an extremely high cat population compared to their human population, with some going up to a ratio of 36:1! These cat islands are perfect for any cat lover to take a day trip to, and we're introducing 11 of them here.
1. Aoshima, Ehime
Aoshima is perhaps the most well-known cat island in Japan. Located in Ehime Prefecture, Japan, this Japanese island is known for its massive feline population that towers over the amount of human residents. Aoshima island is also the most sparsely populated out of all the cat islands, with more than 120 cats and just 15 to 20 human residents - That's six times their human population! Aoshima also has perhaps the most media coverage of all the cat islands in Japan.
2. Tashirojima, Ishinomaki
Another famous cat island in Japan, Tashirojima is a small island situated in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture. As the island is quite small, Tashirojima island has around 100 residents, but the cat population out-weighs humans six to one.
3. Sanagishima, Kagawa
As one of the few cat islands located in the Inland sea, Sanagishima is a tiny fishing village with a mild climate. It lies on the coast of Kagawa, Japan's smallest prefecture.
4. Enoshima, Kanagawa
The closest to the capital of Japan, Tokyo, the Enoshima cat island is a worthy locale for cat lovers. The Japanese island is located in Kanagawa Prefecture, just south of Tokyo, and is of course, filled with feral cats.
5. Muzukijima, Ehime
While most of Japan's cat islands are home to fishing villages, Muzukijima is a Japanese island that's covered with citrus groves, making this island the place that grows Japan's best oranges.
6. Okishima, Shiga
Okishima is Japan's very own floating cat island. It's located in the middle of the largest freshwater depository in Japan, Lake Biwa. This small island only has 350 human residents, and bicycles are the main mode of transportation -- lucky for the feline population here!
7. Manabeshima, Okayama
Off the coast of Japan's Honshu island, you won't find the Manabeshima cat island in travel guides anywhere. This Japanese island's isolation has helped preserve its natural beauty, making it a popular option for film crews, and of course, cats!
8. Aijima, Fukuoka
Out of all the cat islands, Aijima is probably one that's easiest to get to for cat lovers: The famous Japanese bullet train stops just a minute walk to Kokura port, where visitors can catch a boat.
9. Aishima, Fukuoka
Not to be confused with the above Aijima island, the Aishima cat island is also located in Fukuoka. This Japanese cat island is in a vague heart shape -- making it a great destination for both cat lovers and, if the island's cat population proves anything, cats!
10. Genkaishima, Fukuoka
Also located in Fukuoka, Genkaishima is another easy-to-access cat island. Cat lovers can simply get here via Hakata port, which is conveniently located in Fukuoka City, the prefectural capital and largest city in the region. This island was also home to Japan's largest island-based cat population until 2005.
11. Kadarashima, Saga
Last but not least, we have Japan's Kadarashima island. This cat island is surrounded with an ancient legend, which explains why this island is devoid of any dogs. With the complete absence of dogs, Kadarashima is truly, and utterly, a cat's paradise.
These Japanese islands are an absolute dream for cat lovers everywhere, and they are all must-visit destinations for both travelers and locals alike. We highly encourage you to grab a drink at one of Japan's famed vending machines and just relax & fully soak in the cuteness of the (many!) cats found on these islands!
Have you visited any of Japan's cat islands? Let us know at our Wide Open Pets Facebook!