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Aoshima, affectionately known as ‘Cat Island,’ is a unique destination in Ehime Prefecture, set in the tranquil waters of the Seto Inland Sea, in Japan’s Setouchi region. Less than 2 km wide this small island is renowned for its large population of cats, which outnumber the human residents.

Aoshima’s feline inhabitants roam freely, offering a one-of-a-kind experience for visitors and cat enthusiasts from around the world.

The island’s history is as intriguing as its current status as a cat haven. Once home to 900 people in the 1940s, Aoshima has seen a significant decline in human residents, with only about 20 people currently living there today, mostly aged between 50 and 80.

This shift has allowed the cats, originally brought to the island to help control mice in fishing boats, to become the dominant presence, creating a unique and charming atmosphere that has captured the hearts of visitors.

Reaching Aoshima involves a scenic ferry ride from mainland Ehime Prefecture, providing stunning views of the Seto Inland Sea along the way. The journey and the destination offer a serene escape from urban life, where visitors can enjoy the simple pleasures of a rural island community alongside its furry inhabitants.

Aoshima, with its blend of natural beauty and unusual feline dominance, stands as a fascinating and peaceful retreat within the diverse offerings of the Setouchi region.