This is just a glimpse of what awaits you

This is just a glimpse of what awaits you

Tashiro Island is a small island located about 20km south of Ishinomaki in the Miyagi Prefecture. Usually there would be nothing special about this island. It is inhabited by just around 100 people, mostly fishermen, and does not offer any special culture heritages. The reason why this island is growing in its popularity is the fact that since around 2009 the population of cats on the island grow bigger than that of humans. Of course these cats can be considered as stray cats, but since the people living on the island take care of the cats, they have no illnesses and don’t have to worry about food. There is also a pet doctor located on the island that takes care of them. So this island is especially a must go for cat lovers.

How to get there

The ship leaving for Tashirojima

The ship leaving for Tashirojima

You can get there only by ship which leaves at a port in Ishinomaki (3 Chome-1-19 Kadonowakichō, Ishinomaki-shi, Miyagi-ken, Japan). The fare for the two-way ticket is about 2500yen and there is only one ship (the Marmaid) which can take you forth and back. From the Ishinomaki Port the ship leaves around 9.00 am and 12.00 am. The ship back leaves at 14.48 pm and 15.12 pm (PLEASE check the actual times here). Please be aware that the ferry leaving at 15.12pm is the last one back to Ishinomaki. After that, you will have to stay on the island which has no normal hotels, but one ryokan. You will need about 3-4 hours to enjoy the hospitality of the cats and explore at least the most important spots. Also you should know that the cats have their own will and fixed resting times. During noon, most of the cats will be sleeping, so it’s best to time your journey so that you can either go there before or after noon.

During Summer-vacation time (Obon), there are additional ferry leaving for Tashirojima.

Travel Route

You want to get off at 仁斗田 since it has the highest cat population on the island. You can either stay in close proximity to the port all day (many cats are here waiting for visitors), or you can take a walk to the “not yet famous” cat shrine which is located on the highest “mountain” of the island. (here) The story behind the shrine is rather sad though. It is said that once a Fisherman accidentally killed one of the cats living on the island while unloading his boat. He was so sad about it that he buried the cat on the highest mountain and build a shrine for it.

Feeding

Please do not feed the cats yourself. The people of the island feed them at regular times, and you will notice that when you try, some of them are so full that they will reject your offering. Well, that said, it is impossible to not give them anything in order to thank them for their hospitality. So you can actually bring along some cat food and hand it over to the inhabitants by putting it into the cat-food-barrel-covered-with-half-a-buoy located in the port in front of the train station like looking building. If you can’t restrain yourself from giving them something yourself, please use cat food and not half of your rice ball, and make the portions small enough.Well it is actually a good idea to have at least some cat-food with you, so that if you decide to take a lunch break, that you don’t have to look into those sad eyes for the whole time 😉

Playing

Feel free to bring you cat toys along. The cats will be gratefully accepting your offer to play. Well, maybe you wont be able to take them back home… last time I brought 3 things. One was forcefully stolen and another one was lost in action 🙂

Your own food

There are no restaurants or convenient-stores on the Island! Make sure to bring something for lunch yourself. Drinks can be bought from a few vending machines, but the choice isn’t that great, so better bring something along.

What else

During summertime the Island is also inhabited by thousands of mosquitoes. Make sure to bring along your high quality anti-mosquito spray. Otherwise you will end up like the black-haired cats, called mosquito-buses. Well you will understand what I mean when you go there 😉

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