People, Travel

Are You a Cat Lover? Japan is Your Destination

Are You a Cat Lover? Japan is Your DestinationAre You a Cat Lover? Japan is Your Destination

The Internet has long had a love affair with cats — and now has cat-loving tourists flocking to a small, remote island in southern Japan where cats outnumber humans six to one.

Home to more than 120 feral cats, Aoshima Island has no stores and no cars. It has one ferry, running twice per day, carrying a limit of 34 daily visitors, as Reuters reported.

“I seldom carried tourists before,” ferry captain Nobuyuki Ninomiya told the Japan Daily Press. “Now I carry tourists every week, even though the only thing we have to offer is cats.”

“Cat Island,” as the locals call it, was once home to 900 people in 1945. Today, it is home mostly to pensioners who were unable to find work elsewhere after World War II.

The cats were first brought to the island to deal with the mouse population that would swarm fishing boats. According to the Japan Daily Press, the feline population began to increase about a decade ago when the human population declined and there wasn’t anyone to keep the cats from breeding; today, as few as ten of the cats are neutered.

“There are a ton of cats here, then there was this sort of ‘cat witch’ who came out to feed the cats, which was quite fun,” 27-year-old visitor Makiko Yamasaki told Reuters. “So I’d want to come again.”

Aoshima Island is not the only cat island in Japan. The country is filled with places that have earned the nickname “Nekojima,” or “Cat Island.” There are apparently 11 islands in Japan in which the cat population attracts many cat lover tourists to visit them.

France’s very first cat cafe has opened, bringing the enchanting Japanese concept that combines food and felines to Paris’ Marais neighbourhood.

Le Café des Chats, which opened a year and a half ago, is already a roaring success, with visitors having to reserve three days in advance for a weekday slot and up to three weeks in advance for a weekend.

The cat-themed idea, where you can sit and stroke any of the cafe’s 12 resident felines while sipping a warming cup of organic tea, originated in Japan and aims to create a relaxing environment in which the stresses of the busy world can be alleviated by the soothing presence of docile, purring cats.

The cafe has been such a hit that the Café des Chats team is already looking to open a second branch elsewhere in France.