Cat Gods Protect Tashirojima
Tashirojima – there are more than 20 cat islands in Japan. What they have in common is cats can rely on fish food and a lot of sunshine. Cats became the center of the sightseeing in most islands, which is no wonder when we think about the craze over kittens on the internet. Let’s look at some stories of
Tashiro-Jima Island where is said to be the original cat island in Japan and enchanting pictures of cat residents!
Tashirojima (also called the Cat Island) is a small island off the mainland (Miyagi prefecture) of Japan with an enormous population of feline. The population (humans) of the entire island is a few hundred people, mostly elderly. In fact, cats outnumber humans on the island. They believe that feeding the cats delivers both good fortune and wealth to humans and cats as well.
When people first settled in this island, they began silkworming. Some cats were brought to protect the silkworm crop and to fight off the pest. The cats were well fed naturally and they had plenty of time to breed, so they were multiplied rapidly.
In the later period of Edo-era (1603-1868), people in this island began to work on setting net fishery to catch tuna. Fishermen who came from the mainland and islanders worked together on this fishery, they needed to arrange accommodation for fishermen to stay on the island. A lot of simple huts where you can work and stay were constructed. Leftover from fishermen’s dinner started attracting cats.
As fishermen and cats got closer to each other, fishermen were able to predict the weather by watching cats behaviors closely. That was truly valuable for their business.
One day, one of the fishermen picking up the rocks for weighing the net for fishing, rocks collapsed and it hit a cat and killed.
A fisherman’s boss was terribly distressed and saddened by the cat’s death, he buried the cat respectfully. Then…
After that, fishermen began catching loads of fish and had no accidents at sea anymore. They believed the buried cat became
Neko-gamisama (Cat God) and protect fishermen and bring prosperity.
Since then, people took care of cats with even more respect to this day. There’s a cat shrine almost at the center of the island, enshrined
Neko-gamisama that is a guardian god for a good catch and safety at the sea.
You can’t bring any dogs to the island since it’s taken as a natural enemy for cats.
The island is pretty small, you can walk all the way around with 2 to 3 hours. From the gazebo which is located in the west, you can have a wonderful view of the sunset on the ocean.
Hope this island will be protected by <>qNeko-gamisama for many years to come; both cats and humans live happily together.
Also published on Medium.