The island of Aoshima has been getting a lot of attention lately from both foreign and Japanese tourists. This might be because of the recent boom in the popularity of “cat islands” (islands inhabited by large numbers of cats)!
The ferry to Aoshima departs from a pier only 2-minutes walk from JR Iyo Nagahama Station. There’s also a parking lot for visitors coming by car. One thing you should know before coming is that the boat to Aoshima only departs twice a day, but as the number of people that are allowed to visit the island each day is limited, if the quota is filled on the first departure, then the second will be cancelled. In other words, be sure to arrive in time for the first departure. The trip over to Aoshima takes about 35 minutes.
Arriving In Cat Heaven
I had heard a lot about the island and its more than 150 cats, but to be honest when I first arrived it didn’t seem like there were that many. However…
Cats! Cats everywhere! They soon started appearing from all directions! This was just like I had heard. Everybody was excited and had a really good time. Even a slightly hard-faced man from the ferry became soft as butter when playing with the cats. Everyone took out their cameras and phones and started taking pictures. The cats were all really amiable and friendly.
But it was not only the cats that were friendly. The people of the island were also very friendly towards us visitors. They explained that everyone is happy when new visitors arrive, because visitors are happy when they meet the cats.
Feeding The Cats
We were told that there were more to see elsewhere, so we headed to the western part of the village. It’s great to take photos of all the cats, but of course you also want to try and feed them as well. If you are going to feed them, make sure you do it at the designated feeding spot. As soon as you start feeding the first cats, many more soon gather around you. Come and see for yourself.
It’s almost impossible to take a photo without cats in it. Here you can see one particular cat proudly showing off the sea slater he has caught.
Even though the place is a “cat island” it is still inhabited by humans, so please pay attention to where you are on the island. Many people become so engrossed in the cats that they forget where they are and wander onto private property. Let’s be careful!
Before I even knew it, it was time for me to head back to the ferry. I was sad that I couldn’t stay longer, but I am definitely going back again sometime! I left the island waving goodbye to my new cat friends.
Please come and see the cats and their many expressions and behaviors, and experience the island’s delightful atmosphere for yourself.
Address: Aoshima, Nagahama, Ozu, Ehime Prefecture
Time: 1st departure from Nagahama – 8:00
2nd departure from Nagahama – 14:30
1st departure from Aoshima – 8:45
2nd departure from Aoshima – 16:15
Tickets: Adults (12-years-old & up) – 680 yen (one way)
Children (6-11 years) – 340 yen (one way)
Holidays: Departures may be cancelled due to weather conditions
Parking: Available (at the pier)
Setouchi Photo-writer: Futoshi Hineno
> A guided tour, including teatime, where you can see the former “Koshien Hotel” – “Frank Lloyd Wright type” architecture by Arata Endo. / Koshien Hall at Mukogawa Women’s University (Nishinomiya-shi, Hyogo)
> Experience the ancient way of salt making on Kamikamagari-jima Island on the Tobishima Kaido in Aki-nada! / Kamagari Ancient Salt Making Remains Restoration Pavilion & “Amabito-no-Moshio” (Kure-shi, Hiroshima)
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