Aoshima Island: Japan’s Best Cat Island And A Paradise For Cat Lovers

What is it that makes Aoshima unique and distinct from other cat-friendly islands? There are many reasons, but the most obvious is when you step off the boat and the meowing welcome committee rushes up for your arrival. A few years ago, there were around 200 cats on the tiny island. There are a variety of breeds present, including a vast majority of brown and orange tabbies and the calicos.

Aoshima Is The Best Cat Island In Japan

It’s easy to believe that there’s not much to do on an island such as Aoshima… well, it’s true. However, imagine spending time with a group of sweet felines walking around the island with them or simply relaxing in the tranquil water of the Seto Inland Sea as your pets play with each other and stretch, and then sleep. It’s true; Aoshima is a pure cat lover’s dream.

Tips for visiting Cat Island in Japan

Aoshima does not count as a popular tourist area, so it is crucial to protect the island’s peace and private property. A few locals might appreciate interaction with visitors, while some prefer to be able to relax. Aoshima does not have accommodation, shops, cafes, or even vending machines. Be sure to carry everything you’ll need and then take your trash home to your home with you.

The area residents provide the cats with food daily, which means they don’t have to beg for food. It’s an enjoyable experience for visitors to feed the cats, so feeding them is permitted within the boundaries of a specific area not to disrupt port activities and cause disturbance to residents. Please make sure you provide only cat food and offer smaller portions not to make them sick. However, food isn’t the only method to keep your cat feeling happy. Another excellent idea is to provide toys for them to play with.

What made Aoshima become a Cat Island?

Aoshima has turned into a “cat island” very by chance. A few decades ago, it was a vibrant fishing village dependent on the sardine fishery, where cats were brought in for hunting mice. As time passed, fishing on the island decreased, as did the population of humans; however, the cats continued and prospered.

When a few cat lovers came across the island, word of mouth spread through the internet, and it became known as cat paradise. The small, sleepy island turned into international recognition as the cat’s paradise; it was a magnet for Japanese and foreign tourists.

Which is what is the Future of Aoshima?

We have to admit that, despite Aoshima’s popularity, it isn’t actually tourist-friendly and is not an open-air cat cafe run to serve commercial reasons. In 2018, the authorities decided to introduce an extensive neutering program to cut down on the number of cats living there. The Aoshima’s feline population was estimated to be about 200. The number of people of humans had decreased to only six older adults. However, there can be no means to sustain Aoshima as a “cat island” in the long run as the cats heavily depend on humans for food and life.

The unfortunate reality is that Aoshima is likely to become an island that is not inhabited. Locals use and repair the ferry line as the only way to get to the island. Therefore, if the residents’ population completely disappears, the ferry service will too.

But, if you’re an ardent cat lover concerned about the wellbeing of the colony and the residents there, you can enjoy a relaxing time with felines on this tranquil cat island.

How do I get there?

Aoshima is accessible via ferry at Nagahama Port. A one-way trip lasts 35 minutes. A round trip costs ¥1,360 (¥680 for children younger than 12). There are two departures every day, at 8:00 and 14:30, and the return ferry departs at 16:15. Since there are only few seats, we suggest using the morning 8:00 ferry to guarantee the return ferry at 16:15. It is essential to note the condition of the weather.

Nagahama port is located just a five-minute walk from Iyo Nagahama station. It is accessible via the JR Yosan Line, about one hour from Matsuyama station.

Matsuyama is easily accessible via Tokyo, Osaka, or Kyoto via train (although the trip can take more than four hours) or domestic flights that connect to Matsuyama Airport (about 1 hour 40 minutes from Haneda or Narita Airport in Tokyo, or one an hour away from Itami Airport in Osaka)

Please be aware that Aoshima’s local population has requested that all visitors not come into Aoshima until the COVID-19 epidemic is no longer a significant threat. The island is tiny, and there are no medical facilities; therefore, it helps protect residents.