Cat Island “Tashirojima” – A Path To Recovery After The Tsunami

This is an article from Yomiuri Newspaper printed on June 8, 2011

Tashirojima, a remote island belonging to Ishimaki City of Miyagi prefecture is known as “Cat Island”, has a cat population of more than 100 which exceeds its human population on the island. Fishermen on this island called for help to cat lovers across the nation and established Island Reconstruction Fund to help themselves recover from the damages caused by Great East Japan Earthquake that hit the area on March 11, 2011.

The fishermen promised that they will ‘Bring back the island to a state cats and humans live without any worries’.

The number of inhabitants on the island is 95. A 70-year-old woman went missing, their oyster farms were completely destroyed and houses along the coast and piers for ferries were washed away all because of the Tsunami. The water pipes were also damaged and they still don’t have running water as of this moment.

According to Mr. Yutaka Hamaatsu, a fisherman who also runs a small local hotel ‘Gyoshimin Hamaya’ on the island, more than 10 cats suddenly disappeared right after the earthquake on March 11, but they were safe hiding up in the mountain. However, the number of cats coming close to the harbor has substantially decreased from the fear for tsunami today.

Cats and Mr. Hamaatsu

When silk farming was once popular, cats were brought into this island for hunting mouse. On the island, there is even a shrine dedicated to cats. When Cat Island was taken up in one TV station, it started to draw attention. On the island where 80% of the inhabitants are more than 65-year-old, the number of tourists has jumped to 12,300 in 2010, some four times more than that of 3,200 tourists in 2008.

Note from the author: Island Reconstruction Fund welcomes donations of 10,000yen(approximately US$80) for one share. With the donations, fishermen can purchase equipment and other necessary tools for rebuilding their fishing industry on the island again. Those who donate will receive oysters (once they can farm again), ‘cat goods’ (such as a key chain with cat mascot) and ‘cat talismans’ in return. As it takes such a long time to wait for help from the government for reconstruction, I think this is a great concept. Hope they will manage to rebuild themselves soon.

Cats waiting for their fish, before March 11, 2011

Cats waiting for some share, before March 11, 2011


8 responses to “Cat Island “Tashirojima” – A Path To Recovery After The Tsunami

  1. That’s great news! I am hoping Cat Island can return to the condition it was in before 3/11! I’ve seen beautiful pictures of the aqua blue water and those lovely cats hanging around the docks and lying in the sun. I’m a cat lover and the island looks like my idea of paradise and a nice retirement (and earlier!) spot. Any information if the Island Reconstruction Fund will take personal checks or an International Money Order? I’m thrilled to see the fishermen determined to come back!

  2. Hi Joan,

    I’m a cat lover myself too! 🙂
    I’ll check if they accept donations from overseas, but in the meantime here is the website. Unfortunately it’s not in English…

    Good day!

  3. Thanx! I look forward to hearing the answer! I have looked at the pictures even though I can’t read Japanese!

  4. Hi Joan,

    I contacted the organization, but unfortunately they are too busy setting up their website in English at the moment as it’s just started.. 😦
    However, they appreciated such inquiry and that they would like to consider to have an English version in the future. Let’s hope they’d do it soon!


  5. Hi! Thanks for checking for me! Please let Mr. Hamaasu know I am interested in how things are going. I was able to see some of the You Tube footage from both before and after the tsunami. It was adorable seeing how the cats loved being at the docks with the fishermen, and the cats were friendly with the people taking pictures of them. I send the fishermen and Mr. Hamaasu luck and love and wish them – and the cats and residents – health and happiness!

  6. Oops! I mean Mr. Hamaatsu!

  7. I wonder if we can donate to Mister Hamaatsu? He knows where the need is worst on the ISLAND and the citizens can do it as it is beds for them and the cats.

  8. Pingback: Swamped: 7 Amazing Islands Overrun By Animals | WebEcoist

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