Did you know that there is a Cat Island in Japan? I’ve read about it on La Carmina and was fascinated by the thought of it! The island called Tashirojima (田代島) is located in the prefecture of Miyagi. There used to live around 1000 people in the 1950s but the population has fallen back to 100 people living there today. Due to the fishermen who keep feeding the cats, because of the belief that they bring good luck and wealth, the feline population is now larger than the human population on the island.
According to Wikipedia : “In the past, the islanders raised silkworms for silk, and cats were kept in order to keep the mouse population down (because mice are a natural predator of silkworms). Fixed-net fishing was popular on the island after the Edo Period and fishermen from other areas would come and stay on the island overnight. The cats would go to the inns where the fishermen were staying and beg for scraps. Over time, the fishermen developed a fondness for the cats and would observe the cats closely, interpreting their actions as predictions of the weather and fish patterns. One day, when the fishermen were collecting rocks to use with the fixed-nets, a stray rock fell and killed one of the cats. The fishermen, feeling sorry for the loss of the cat, buried it and enshrined it at this location on the island.
There are at least ten cat shrines in Miyagi Prefecture. There are also 51 stone monuments in the shape of cats, which is an unusually high number compared to the other prefectures. In particular, these shrines and monuments are concentrated in the southern area of the island, overlapping with the regions where silkworms were raised.”
Cats seem to have an important role in Japan. While visiting the Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyōto two and a half years ago I was stunned by the large number of cats living there! As we arrived on the top of the area there were cats sleeping everywhere on the stone sculptures. The Maneki Neko (招き猫) is seen everywhere in Japan because of its reputation to bring good luck and protection. If you read Haruki Murakamis “Kafka on the shore” you probably know how much significance he attributes to the cats in his story. There is also the Yamato Transport, one of Japan’s largest door-to-door delivery service companies. Their logo, a black mother cat carrying a kitten in her mouth, symbolizes the company’s promise that they take care of items entrusted to them as though the items were their own family. “The logo is as familiar in Japan as the Coca-Cola logo is in the United States.” (Wikipedia)
Sadly I had never heard of this Island while staying in Japan. If I had known, I’d probably have visited it! The Cat Island has survived the Tsunami!
For more information: News
Here some photos of Tashirojima:
And the cats living there:
Have a nice weekend! byebye ねこちゃん