Cat Paradise in Aoshima, Ehime Prefecture ♡
A Place to Visit: Aoshima, the “Cat Paradise.”
Aoshima is an island in Ehime Prefecture’s Ozu City, off of the Seto Inland Sea. This article will introduce a tour of Aoshima. Also known as Cat Island, Aoshima is a paradise for cats and cat-lovers like me, with a population of around 15 people and over 100 cats.
History of Aoshima
Aoshima was originally an uninhabited island. When it was discovered to be a good fishing area its population quickly shot up to 900 people, but that number has declined steadily over time, and now only 14 households with 15 total residents remain.
The people who lived on the island owned cats, and since everybody loves them, the number on Aoshima continued to grow. Before they knew it, the number of cats reached over 100! Its nickname “Cat Island” is no exaggeration.
Requests from Residents of “Cat Island”
In recent years, Aoshima has become more and more famous both in Japan and overseas thanks to various forms of media, and cat-lovers from all over the country and world have come to visit. Because Aoshima is not officially designated as a tourist spot, supposedly the island’s residents are a bit confused by the popularity. The cat-loving residents of the island will not turn away visitors who want to “be close to the cats,” but they have made a few requests, which are listed below. If you want to visit Aoshima, be sure to keep these in mind!
- It is fine to want to get close to the cats, but the island’s residents feed them properly every day, so please do not feed them. However, there is a location specifically designated for getting close to the cats, and giving them a bit of food there is fine. Please be sure to only give them small amounts of food.
- The boats coming and going from Aoshima Port not only bring tourists, but they also deliver basic everyday supplies to the island and bring official documents and letters. As such, please do not hang around the vicinity of the port.
- Aoshima is not an official tourist spot, so the old houses and dwellings are where the residents live. Please refrain from entering them.
※The “Community Center,” where you can play with and feed a large number of cats, is about a 3-minute walk from the port.
Things to Know If You Want to Visit Aoshima
I’m sure that there are cat-lovers who will read about Aoshima in this article and want to come visit. The following are things that I noticed myself when I visited, so they may be good things to know for potential visitors.
- There are no cars or bicycles on the island.
- There are no lodgings, restaurants, or shops on the island. There are also no vending machines.
- The cats on the island are much less guarded than cats in urban areas. As such, they love to act close and familiar with people, and they’ll wind themselves around the legs of visitors. Please walk slowly and be careful to not step on or trip over the cats!
- There is nowhere to throw away trash on the island, so be sure to clean up after yourself and take any garbage you make back with you.
Video to Enjoy: A Paradise of 15 People and 100 Cats♪
Enjoy this video on what the island is like! ♡
Tour of Aoshima (Transportation Information Included)
It is recommended that you leave from Matsuyama, the prefectural capital of Ehime:
06:04 Depart from Matsuyama Station on the Yosan Line
07:16 Arrive at Iyo-Nagahama Station
07:20 Purchase tickets at the Aoshima Boarding Area, about a 2-minute walk from Nagahama Station (adult round-trip ticket 1360 yen, children 680 yen)
08:00 Depart on the Aoshima boat
08:35 Arrive at Aoshima
~~~~Play lots with the cute cats! ♡~~~~
16:15 Depart from Aoshima Port on the Aoshima boat
16:50 Arrive at Nagahama Port
17:34 Depart from Iyo-Nagahama Station
18:30 Return to Matsuyama Station
Also, pay special attention to the following two points:
- There are a number of trips on the Aoshima boat available in both the morning and afternoon, but on days where many tourists are visiting the afternoon boats may be full. As such, try to go during the morning if possible! (Round-trip hours for afternoon trips: 14:30 departure, 16:15 arrival)
- If the weather is bad, the boat trip service is suspended, so be sure to check the weather before you go!
What Should You Do If Perchance You Couldn’t Get on the Boat?
As mentioned above, there are times that would-be visitors to Aoshima cannot board the boats there, thanks to poor weather conditions or the boat being at full capacity. Going back to Matsuyama would lose you around 3 hours, so, in that case, staying overnight in Nagahama may be a good option to consider. There are no hotels or ryokan in Nagahama, but there are some inns. Here I will introduce the inn “Minshuku Ryoutei.”
Basic Information on “Minshuku Ryoutei”
- 623 Nagahama, Ozu City, Ehime Prefecture
- Accommodation Fee
- Lodging only 4,500 yen. With breakfast 5,000 yen. With dinner and breakfast 6,000 yen.
- About 7 minutes on foot from Iyo-Nagahama Station
That’s it for this tour of Aoshima, the Cat Paradise! Why not give it a visit if you’re a cat-lover? Also, if you’re already travelling to Ehime Prefecture, there are plenty of things to do in Matsuyama as well, so check out this article, “2 Nights and 3 Days, Matsuyama Travel Notes,” too!