Friday, August 29, 2014

An Island ruled by Cats - Tashirojima, japan

A 40-minute ferry ride from Ishinomaki, near Sendai, will get you to a small island named Tashirojima. There you will find a population of 100 people and several hundred cats. In the last 50 years, the human population of the island has dwindled from 1,000 to fewer than 100.

The feline domination of Tashirojima dates back to Japan's late Edo Period—from the mid-18th to the mid-19th century. At that time, residents of the island raised silkworms for their textiles. Cats were valued because they chased away the mice that preyed on silkworms.

Tashirojima is, an island sustained by the fishing industry. The beloved silk-saving cats began to approach fishermen for food, and the workers' obliging response drew swarms of kitties to the shores. A mythology arose around the Tashirojima cats: The fishermen came to regard them as good luck and built a cat shrine in the middle of the island.

Though it was perilously close to the epicenter of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake—and therefore in the path of the ensuing tsunami—Tashirojima, its people, and its four-legged inhabitants survived the disaster. Buildings at the shore were damaged, but most houses, built on hillsides, remained intact.

An unnerving video on YouTube purports to show some of the island's cats behaving strangely right before the tsunami hit:

It's no accident that the cats who inhabit Tashirojima, or what has become known as "Cat Island," in Japan have come to be the island's primary residents. Cats have long been thought by the locals to represent luck and good fortune, and doubly so if you feed and care for them. Thus, the cats are treated like kings, and although most are feral because keeping them as "pets" is generally considered inappropriate, they are well-fed and well-cared-for.

Now known as Cat Island and on the obscure and quirky tourism trail, Tashirojima is taking advantage of its appeal to kitty-loving visitors. Cat-shaped cabins are available for overnight stays between April and November.

Despite this, luck and fortune hasn't exactly come to the human residents of "Cat Island." As more and more people have shunned the island as it became dominated by felines, the people that have remained have become ever more protective of the cats. Currently, dogs are not allowed on the island to protect the well-being of the cats – and presumably any dog foolish enough to venture onto an island full of feral cats.

The cats may end up bringing luck after all, however. Tourism has been picking up as the island has become an attraction for curious travelers, thanks to all of those cats.

For more details click here an_island_in_japan_ruled_by_cats.