As a MAJOR cat lover I was intrigued when I heard Japan has several cat islands. With the biggest being Tashirojima. I had to go there no matter what. If you are interested in this special island, read all about my stay on Cat Island Japan below.
Check also my 21-day Itinerary for more Japan inspiration and other animal spots on the way!
To get there you will first need to take a train (better yet the fast train Shinkansen) to Sendai. Sendai is actually a really nice city. We stayed there one night before leaving early to Cat Island. I suggest you to do so as well, or leave realllllyy early from Tokyo.
In Sendai you have to take the local JR train to Ishinomaki. After arriving in Ishonomaki station you could take a bus to the port or share a taxi, which is what we did.
At the port you can find the necessary information and time tables for the Ajishima line (40 min) ferry to Tashirojima. Ideally it is advised to plan this ahead as the ferry only goes a few times a day. Below you have a timetable, get off at Nitoda port (red star). Keep their site in mind for any updates.
If you are not planning to stay on the island, be sure to make it to the last ferry back to ishinomaki! Or you will be stuck on the island until next morning.
One of the ferries is called the mermaid ferry, and you can see in the picture above why.
What to see and do on Cat Island Japan
Walking around the island
First of all let me start with the most important fact: Tashirojima is almost a deserted island. It was hit by the Tsunami of 2011, and only a few people decided to return and stil live there. I asked a local nice lady and she told me 10 people live on that island. While the cats multiplied by almost a 100.
Walking around the island you can see that the island has been hit hard and it is mostly abandoned now. You can walk around the island in a few hours. The island consists mostly of forest and grasslands and you can find small groups of buildings especially closer to the ports.
Giving cats the love they deserve
An other important thing you can do is off course enjoy your time with the cats. Be aware: Tashirojima is not a cat cafe!
The cats are wild, and many are shy and cautious of humans. Also there are no vets on the island and many cats have the sneezing cat disease with many having cataracts or other nose/eye injuries or inflammations. Be careful when you approach them.
When we reached some houses during our walk we found a bunch of super cute and healthy kitties chilling. When we started playing with them and giving them food, an old lady came out of the house and told us politely not to feed them as they already got food. They took care of these cats themselves and you could really see how healthy they were and not afraid of playing with us at all. The kind lady even borrowed us some of her cat toys.
Visiting the Cat Shrine
Somewhere halfway from Manga island (keep scrolling to read what this is) to the other port Ondomari, we found the famous cat shrine of the island.
It is not a huge shrine but I loved how they got their own dedicated shrine full of cat images and figurines. There were two black cats chilling over there (I love black cats since I have one of my own). Oh boy they were happy with the fishies we gave them.
One of them had a short tail as you can see in the pictures. This is an other example how the cats are wild and some body parts could be wounded or even missing.
Where to stay
Manga Island – メールアドレス
So what is manga island?
It is a lodge park with several cute cat lodges you can spend the night. They are decorated from the inside and the outside, in full cat themes off course, made by different local artists.
You have to reserve on the site of Ishinomaki city and it is in Japanese, but if you can find somebody to help you, it is definitely worth it.
On the bottom of the page you have an information PDF and the reservation request PDF in Japanese. There is also an email, you can always email them and ask for help: firstname.lastname@example.org
The price is very affordable and the location is very nice. Here is also the place we found the most cats chilling, they must know they get food if they stick around this place.
What to bring
The only shop on the island
Very important to know!!!
The only shop on the island is the one in my picture below… Yes it was open, even if it doesn’t look like it. The old lady running it must have been about 85-90 years old. But inside it is nothing like a supermarket, you can barely get any food or drinks here and the prices are way higher than in normal covienient stores.
Sooooo needless to say: bring your own food and drinks! Especially if you are going to stay over for the night. Don’t make the same mistake as us of thinking more about kitty food than human food. Oh boy we were hungry in the evening haha
But off course also bring some goodies and treats for the cats!
Depending on the weather, I would suggest to bring an umbrella and warm clothes, especially if you want to walk around. Comfortable shoes would be great too. And please, bring plastic bags to put in your garbage during your walks.
Ps: If you going to sleep on the island, bring some kind of entertainment for yourself as there is no wifi and if you won’t sleep early you will need something to do.
This is about all I can say of the Cat Island Japan.
I really liked this short trip to Tashirojima. The cats were so lovely and everywhere! Some run away from you so leave them be, but most of them were very curious and wanted your attention.
I was in my element with the cats. Before we left the island, my cat gang (same hair color duh) was waiting for me to say bye. Well at least that is what I think mmmkay