Cat Island in Japan, With Brand New Images Taken by Photographer Kei Nomiyama

With absolutely no shops, cars, restaurants or kiosks selling snacks, Aoshima is not the ideal hotspot for tourists.

But cat lovers are not complaining at all.


Aoshima Island is one of just about a dozen ‘cat islands’ around Japan – small places where there are significantly more feline residents than people.


In fact, cats now outnumber humans six to one on the island.


These incredible new pictures taken by photographer Kei Nomiyama show hundreds of cats prowling the island, curled up in abandoned houses and strutting about in the quiet fishing village.


Recently becoming popular online, tiny Aoshima has recently seen a steep rise in tourist visits, overwhelming the handful of permanent residents.


Kei said: ‘Aoshima, a 30-minute ferry ride off the coast of Ehime was once home to 900 people in 1945 now only around 15 people live on the island.


‘It’s mostly home to pensioners who didn’t seek work elsewhere after World War II.

‘The only sign of human activity now is the boatload of two times of day-trippers from the mainland, visiting what is locally known as Cat Island.’


Several cats were originally introduced to the mile-long island to deal with a mouse infestation that plagued fishermen’s boats, however they stayed on and multiplied.

Nomiyama said: ‘The massive increase of cats has become a big burden in recent years to the small island.


‘Locals are trying to keep the feline population in check and at least 10 cats have been neutered.

‘The residents haven’t taken too kindly to the tourists either as they don’t mind them coming, but want to be left in peace.’


The cats of Aoshima survive on any food they are given by tourists and local residents. Their usual daily menu consists of rice balls and leftover scraps of food.


Kei added: ‘There are many feeding grounds for visitors on cat island and a great deal of cats gather there.


‘With more than a hundred cats coming towards you for food this can definitely become overwhelming!’

The island has one ferry which runs twice per day, carrying a limit of 34 daily visitors.


The feline population began to balloon about ten years back when the human population declined and no-one was around to prevent the breeding.


There are a number of other ‘cat islands’ around Japan including Enoshima, in the Kanagawa Prefecture, Okishima, in the Shiga Prefecture and Sanagishima, in the Kagawa Prefecture.