Tashirojima 田代島


       Tashirojima is a rural fishing village island off of northeastern Honshu with many feline inhabitants. About 100 full-time residents (human) live there, mostly elderly.

       The island was once a center of textile production, and islanders raised silkworms for silk. Cats were introduced in order to take care of mice who would eat the silkworms. Fisherman would also dock and stay on the island overnight. The cats would go to the inns where the fishermen were staying and beg for food. The fishermen gained a fondness for the cats and would observe them closely, interpreting their behavior as predictions of the weather and fish patterns. One day, when the fishermen were collecting rocks to use with the fixed-nets, a rock fell and killed one of the cats. The fishermen, feeling sorry for the loss of the cat, buried it and permanently enshrined it. The cat shrine, known as Neko-jinja (猫神社) is near the center of the island and contains many cat-related items.

       The island also has buildings shaped like cats and a cat gift shop and museum. No dogs are allowed on the island.