Cat Island Remains Unharmed Despite Disaster in Japan

– Laura Lundberg

Headlines about the disaster in Japan after the earthquake have dominated the news over the past few weeks, and rightfully so. But with all the destruction and sadness that has been portrayed in the media, it’s nice to hear any piece good news from the country. And shockingly, there is some.  What’s this good news? A small island off the coast of Japan just a few miles away from where the tsunami struck remained untouched, as have all its feline citizens.

The tiny island of Tashiro is located off the Japanese coast located near Ishinomaki City in Miyagi Prefecture. The island is lush, full of trees and gorgeous ocean views. However there is something about Tashiro that sets it apart from the other islands along the coast of Japan, and it’s quite unique. Thousands of cats inhabit this island. About 100 human residents currently live on what is known as “Cat Island”, though only one is under the age of 40. The community works together to care for their resident cats by feeding them and giving them plenty of water.

One small ferryboat called ‘The Mermaid’ carries passengers and tourists from Ishinomaki City to “Cat Island” where the tourists can marvel at this feline infested island. The local residents have been using the media coverage of the tsunami in order to generate more awareness of their home, essentially bringing in more tourism revenue. The more media the better, and since most of the current residents are elderly, they fear that once they perish, the island will become deserted, and no one will look after the cats. Therefore they are somewhat recruiting people to move to the island to take over their cat duties.

The cats have also been enshrined on the island. For hundreds of years, villagers on the island have worshiped cats because they believe that bringing in a good amount of fish is the cats omen (Check out this video of the cats being fed by fisherman). They worship these cats through their building structures, many of which are shaped somewhat like cat faces, as well as by carving cat-like figures into rocks that are placed on shrines around the island.

Not surprisingly, dogs have been banned from stepping foot on the island, making this a cat’s paradise. It’s a paradise that the residents of the island hope will survive, so they will continue campaign to get more residents on their island.

 

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