Aoshima, a paradise for cats
Aoshima is a small island that is located in the Seto Inland Sea within Nagahama-cho Ohsuji City in Ehime Prefecture. With an area comparable to Tokyo Dome, cats started to reproduce naturally on the island from around the year 2000, and currently there are about 100 cats living with 15 people in an area which is a must-see place for cat lovers. It was introduced on the Internet and TV as a cat’s paradise in 2014 and the island became an overnight sensation. Although in the 1940s there were as many as 880 residents, the population gradually decreased as young people started to live away from Aoshima, so that now, there isn’t a single car or bicycle and there are many abandoned buildings.
A 30-minute boat ride from Port Nagahama
To reach Aoshima, it takes 30 minutes by boat one-way from Port Nagahama which is located in front of JR Iyo-Nagahama Station. There are morning and afternoon cruises with the second cruise staying at the island for an hour upon arrival so that visitors can stay for either 8 hours or 1 hour. The boat can hold 34 people but since the people who go to the island on the morning cruise all come back on the afternoon cruise, it is recommended to go to the island on the morning cruise since boarding the afternoon boat back to the mainland will give priority to those who had come to the island on the morning cruise.
Meet the affable cats
Numerous cats will surround you as soon as the boat arrives. It is prohibited to feed the cats by yourself on the island but there is one lone facility in front of the community center 3 minutes’ walk away from the arrival point which is a good place for visitors to feed the cats. However it is requested to give very small amounts to them in consideration of their health. Also, if your timing is good, you can spot the spectacle of residents feeding fish to the cats on the breakwater by the arrival point. You can view the feeding frenzy of several dozen cats scrambling for the food. There are no shops or vending machines on the island so please prepare beforehand. As well, because there are no places to protect you from the sun or rain, it’s good to bring an umbrella or parasol with you.