Best time to travel to Japan

Aoshima (Cat Island) in Japan

Mice are not allowed to the island, but guests bringing tuna cans are welcome

Best time: April–October

Aoshima (Cat Island)
Aoshima (Cat Island)

A small island of Aoshima has little to offer, besides its decent cat population that exceeds human 10 times. In fact, the place is almost deserted, with only around 16 individuals living there, but the habitat undoubtedly belongs to 160 cats.

Veteran human residents will tell you stories of how it came to be so. Around 800 fishermen who once lived there, left the island for better fortune. But abandoned cats eventually took over the island, and introduced a strict regime for mice.

The highlight of the day on this island is definitely a tourist boat visit. Cats love having guests, for they know they would come with presents in form of tuna cans and other delicacies. An average visit lasts for around 45 blissful minutes of purring, and cheering, when both people and cats can't get enough of each other, well at least until tuna cans are emptied.

If you fancy visiting the cats' empire, it's open any time of the year. However, the island also has a cat-themed resort which is open for visitors only from April to October.

Practical info

When is the best time to visit Aoshima?

From April to October, the cat-themed resort on Aoshima Island is open and it is the best time to visit. Though the island is open all year round, the available attractions are limited to observing the feline inhabitants. Tourists can stay at the resort within this period and experience the island's cat population in all its glory. Show more

Where is Aoshima located in Japan?

Located in the southern Ehime Prefecture of Japan, Aoshima is a small island surrounded by the Seto Inland Sea. The island is accessible by a short ferry ride from Fukuoka city. Although there is a scarcity of human inhabitants, the island has grown in popularity due to its famous and ever-growing cat population. Show more

How did cats become the main inhabitants of Aoshima Island?

In the absence of the fishing community around 30 years ago, cats took over the island and became its main inhabitants. Since then, tourists have flocked to the island mainly for its feline occupants. With time and self-reliance, the cats have developed a strict regimen of keeping the mouse population in check, ensuring balance in the island's ecosystem. Show more

What is the duration of a typical tourist boat visit to Aoshima Island?

Between 45 minutes to an hour, a typical tourist boat visit to Aoshima Island lasts depending on the chosen tour package. During the boat ride, tourists can observe and engage with the famous cats of the island. Most recommend bringing along food for the feline residents, as it helps to win their friendship and trust. Show more

Are there any rules or restrictions for visitors to Aoshima Island besides not bringing mice?

While there exist no strict rules or restrictions, tourists are advised to show respect to the habitat and privacy of the island's feline inhabitants. Bringing food for the cats is encouraged, as they eagerly await visitors with edible gifts. It is essential to avoid intruding into the cats' affairs or hindering their activities during the stay on the island. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin