A Visit to Aoshima, a Japanese ‘Cat Island’

Aoshima Island is one of about a dozen “cat islands” around Japan, small places where there are significantly more feline residents than people. In Aoshima more than a hundred cats prowl the island, curling up in abandoned houses or strutting about in the quiet fishing village. Cats outnumber humans six to one on the island. Recently becoming popular online, tiny Aoshima has seen a steep rise in tourist visits, overwhelming the handful of permanent residents.

1)Cats crowd the harbor on Aoshima Island in the Ehime prefecture of southern Japan on February 25, 2015. #

Cats surround people as they get off a boat at the harbor on Aoshima Island, Japan, on February 25, 2015. #

The main part of the fishing village on Aoshima Island, photographed on February 25, 2015. #

A local woman shoos away cats as she leaves her house on Aoshima Island on February 25, 2015. #

Cats crowd the Aoshima Island harbor on February 25, 2015. #

A clowder of cats on the wharf on Aoshima Island on February 25, 2015. #

A cat carries a fish on Aoshima Island on February 25, 2015. #

A cat walks past wooden farm sheds on Aoshima Island on February 25, 2015. #

A cat jumps off a piano in the music room of a derelict school on Aoshima Island on February 25, 2015. #

The print of a cat paw is embedded in concrete on Aoshima on February 25, 2015. #

Cats crowd the harbor embankment on Aoshima on February 25, 2015. #

Cats crowd around the village nurse and Ozu city official Atsuko Ogata as she carries a bag of cat food to the designated feeding place on Aoshima Island on February 25, 2015. #

Aoshima cats beg for food on February 25, 2015. #

Aoshima Cats crowd around the village nurse Atsuko Ogata as she carries a bag of cat food on February 25, 2015. # Thomas Peter/Reuters

A cat leaps at the photographer to snatch his lunch snack on Aoshima on February 25, 2015. # Thomas Peter/Reuters

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