“There is a ton of cats here, then there was this sort of cat witch who came out to feed the cats which was quite fun,” said 27-year-old Makiko Yamasaki. “So I’d want to come again.”
The island is overrun with more than 120 cats that were originally brought in to deal with mice – but now they outnumber people six to one.
Originally introduced to the mile-long island of Aoshima to deal with mice that plagued fishermen’s boats, the cats stayed on — and multiplied. More than 120 cats swarm the island with only a handful of humans for company, mostly pensioners who didn’t join the waves of migrants seeking work in the cities after World War Two.
Aoshima, a 30-minute ferry ride off the coast of Ehime prefecture, had been home to 900 people in 1945.
The only sign of human activity now is the boatload of day-trippers from the mainland, visiting what is locally known as Cat Island.
With no restaurants, cars, shops or kiosks selling snacks, Aoshima is no tourist haven. But cat lovers are not complaining.
The allure of cats is not surprising in a country that gave the world Hello Kitty, a cartoon character considered the epitome of cuteness.