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Wednesday, 4th March 2015
In General Japan News, Japan Travel News,

Tourists flocking to 'cat island' in Japan

A remote island off the coast of southern Japan has become a hotspot for tourists, after it has emerged that the number of cats there outnumber humans six to one.

The island of Aoshima, which can be accessed via a 30-minute ferry from the Ehime coast, is home to just 20 humans aged between 50 and 80, but also hosts a staggering 120 cats. Residents first migrated here 380 years ago, forming for themselves a fishing village - the cats came when fishermen needed a way to deal with the mice that plagued their boats.

By 1945, the population stood at 900, but as this figure decreased after the second world war, no one was there to check the breeding habits of the felines, and hence their numbers shot up. Today, vast crowds of tourists are seeking to check out what they dub 'cat island', many of which feed the cats rice balls, potatoes and even energy bars. The majority of tourists come from Tokyo, a city known for its obsession with Hello Kitty and cat cafes.

Speaking to Japan Daily Press, 27-year-old tourist Makiki Yamasaki said: "There is a ton of cats here, then there was this sort of cat witch who came out to feed the cats which was quite fun. I'd want to come again."

Local resident and fisherman Hidenori Kamimoto added: "If people coming to the island find the cats healing, then I think it's a good thing. I just hope that it's done in a way that doesn't become a burden on the people who live here."

While there is an interest in cats across Japan, they are often not kept in homes due to local laws forbidding the domestic inhabitants of pets.

Related news stories:
Hiroshima increasingly popular with tourists (11th June 2014)
A cheap yen and investment - foreign tourists flocking to Japan (13th March 2015)
Japan encourages Chinese tourists off the beaten track (26th February 2015)
Japanese stores offering tourists tax-free shopping rise by 60% (4th March 2015)
January visitors to Japan hits record high (24th February 2015)