Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles This is my dream... On a scale of one to ten how happy are you? I'm eleven. Today we're at Tashirojima, aka CAT ISLAND! Tashirojima is a small fishing island off the coast of Sendai—only 1.2 square miles in area. And… it is inhabited by an extraordinary number of cats. This island smells very strongly of dead fish. You're pied cat piper. This is the best day of my life. They're all coming. This place is heaven. Never going home. By the way, fun fact: this isn't the only cat island in Japan. There's another cat island called Aoshima in Ehime Prefecture. This however, is the main cat island. It's got a cat shrine, cat museum, cat toys, cat figures, cat food, cat houses, cat bus, cat cats, and finally crazy cat people, like me, Sharla, and Jun. And then there's this guy. Cat island takes a 2600 yen (about $21), 50 minute ferry ride to get to. The ferry only runs a couple of times per day, which means if you miss it or it gets canceled, you get stuck on cat island. Not exactly the worst thing in the world. He let us know we found the shrine! We made it to the cat shrine and this cat is so happy to see us. We brought food. There's one more over here. It's basically a cat person's paradise… in theory. You see, cat island was never meant to be a tourist destination. The cats were originally introduced to keep down mice populations, and both superstition and a fondness for the cats led to an explosion in their population. More than 100 stray cats now live on this island, and while some small measures have been taken to provide for tourism, it seems quite empty… It seemed like we were alone until we slowly started spotting people just sitting quietly in the shadows. The population has halved in the last 20 years. Now there are only 85 residents, 70 of which are elderly. Here you go. Thank you! No, thank you. Oh! Your change! Sorry! Thank you! Rachel, what are you doing? I'm getting dumb today. I'm so excited about the cats. I can't think about anything else. The island's village is actually classified as terminal, which means it's on the verge of disappearing completely. The economy isn't exactly booming. Cat Island is less like a fantastical Japan wonderland from your dreams, like Fox Village, and more like… a real place. It's just a place, with real world problems. The cats are strays, which means beyond being fed by villagers and visitors, they don't seem to be getting much care. A large portion of the cats we saw were sick or injured. Is she okay? Yeah, the baby doesn't look so good. And it felt very sad knowing that there really wasn't anything we could do for them, other than buy them food. You want some, too? Here. It isn't all bad news, though. Cat Island was directly in the path of the 2011 Tohoku tsunami, and while there was some damage the island managed to survive, along with the cats. The water is all the way down there, and came up to here during 311. From here on out, we can only hope that someone else with a giant love of cats will find a way to manage the situation so that the cats can get proper care and food, or at least get fixed. All in all it's a beautiful island, with a priceless experience, and I wouldn't trade my day with those cats for anything. I also still recommend people visit. You can at the least still bring them food and attention, or toys to play with. So if you have a chance to go to Miyagi Prefecture, try to make it up to Ishinomaki port and check out cat island! He let us know we found the shrine. He just stands there and calls for people. This way. He's the guardian of the cat shrine.