Japanese curiosity blog Tofugu alerts us to the curious existence of an island called Tashirojima, off the northeastern coast of Japan’s main island, Honshū. Apparently, cats on Tashirojima greatly outnumber people, of whom there are only about 100, more than half of whom are 65 years or older. Tofugu: “It’s like that ‘cat lady,’ but an entire island.”
How did Tashirojima become so overrun with cats? Thank the island’s fishermen: (with bonus sadstory)
In the past, the islanders raised silkworms for silk, and cats were kept in order to keep the mouse population down (because mice are a natural predator of silkworms). Fixed-net fishing was popular on the island after the Edo Period and fishermen from other areas would come and stay on the island overnight. The cats would go to the inns where the fishermen were staying and beg for scraps. Over time, the fishermen developed a fondness for the cats and would observe the cats closely, interpreting their actions as predictions of the weather and fish patterns. One day, when the fishermen were collecting rocks to use with the fixed-nets, a stray rock fell and killed one of the cats. The fishermen, feeling sorry for the loss of the cat, buried it and enshrined it at this location on the island.
But wait: Are there giant houses shaped like cats? Do you even have to ask?