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TokyoTreat Japanese Snacks BlogCat Island and More: Best Animal Islands in Japan!

Cat Island and More: Best Animal Islands in Japan!

James LauJames Lau
Published Time
Posted on 
February 20, 2024
Cat Island, featuring a bunch of cats on Tashiro Island.

From Cat Island to Rabbit Island, Japan has many places to meet and see adorable creatures in their natural habitats. Each island has animals that run wild and free! If you’re an animal lover, these islands promise a unique experience with nature’s friends!

Cats (Tashiro Island)

Tashiro Island is a small island off the coast of Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture. It’s famous for its large population of cats. There are four times as many cats as humans on the island! The cats were initially brought to the island to help on the silkworm farms, but now, locals and visitors care for them! It’s common to see people taking pictures of the cats sleeping and lying on the ground!

Visitors from everywhere travel to Cat Island, taking a one-hour ferry ride to reach the island. The main job on the island is fishing, and the fishermen believe that the cats bring good luck! Visitors can also enjoy newer attractions like the Manga Island resort, known for its manga-themed camping cottages!

Rabbits (Ookuno Island)

Okunoshima, also known as Rabbit Island, near the coast of Hiroshima, Japan, is famous for its adorable rabbits. Rabbit Island attracts tourists who want to experience the unique charm of playing with these adorable creatures. Rabbits on the island live among their families and symbolize blessings for many children, making it a popular place to visit for those seeking good luck.

Despite its charming wildlife, Okunoshima has a dark past and had a secret poison gas factory during World War II. The old factory buildings are a reminder, and the Poison Gas Museum gives more information about the island’s wartime activities. (This museum is not suitable for young children.) Although Okunoshima has a dark past, visitors can still enjoy the company of the rabbits on the beautiful beaches.

Sheep (Yagishiri Island)

Yagishiri Island is near the coast of Haboro in Hokkaido. Visitors take a short ferry ride from Haboro to get to the island. The island has beautiful forests covering two-thirds of its land, protected by the government. It is a National Natural Monument and is home to many sheep. Visitors can watch them relaxing in a meadow as the island provides a stress-free environment for the sheep.

A sheep farm adds to the island’s unique charm, while flower lovers can enjoy the many tree varieties, including the Japanese yew tree. Nature lovers can also explore the island’s Uguisu Valley and enjoy the Yagishirito Lighthouse. The island also has two restaurants serving fresh seafood and sheep dishes caught by local fishermen! Although the island is home to only 300 people, it’s still a charming place to visit!

Are you looking for some great snacks to enjoy while visiting animal islands? Check out TokyoTreat! TokyoTreat delivers limited-edition Japanese noodles, snacks, drinks, and sweets right to your door so you can enjoy the latest spring goodies directly from Japan!

Horse (Yonaguni Island)

Yonaguni Island is one of Japan’s Yaeyama Islands. Known for its sunsets, the island is Japan’s westernmost point, giving a beautiful setting for watching the sun fall between the rocks. Divers swim in Yonaguni’s waters to watch swimming hammerhead sharks, while the underwater ruins have explorers searching for their mysteries! Yonaguni Island is also home to the native Yonaguni horses, a rare breed that runs freely across the island’s pastures.

The horses were designated a natural monument in 1969 and are raised at the North and East ranches. They are only 110-120cm tall, making them ponies, and have been used for farming, transportation, and play. Although modern technology has taken over most of their jobs, Yonaguni horses are still loved by the island! From horseback riding to traditional weaving, Yonaguni Island offers a unique experience for all to enjoy!

Monkeys (Kou Island)

Kou Island, located in Miyazaki Prefecture, is home to around 100 Japanese monkeys, known for their unique behavior, such as washing potatoes in seawater and swimming in the ocean for pleasure. Designated as a natural monument, Kyoto University scientists have researched these unique monkeys! Legends say that monkeys were brought to the island by shipwrecked survivors or hidden by outcasts in ancient times!

Studies done by Kyoto University researchers have also helped us understand the monkeys’ society, families, and even their personalities! Despite worries about agriculture and tourism, Kojima Island remains a protected natural habitat, bringing ferry visitors interested in eco-tourism and exploring nature. The island offers an opportunity to see Japanese monkeys in their natural habitat.

Why should I visit places like Cat Island?

You should visit these islands because they have different animals, keep and protect their natural beauty, and respect their wildlife inhabitants. Visitors can appreciate the beauty of these creatures and the importance of saving their habitats. Japan’s animal islands offer something special for travelers to discover and enjoy! Have you ever been to one of Japan’s animal islands? Which one did you go to? Let us know in the comments below!

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