Cat Islands of Japan

Yeah, islands ruled by cats.

In Japan there are three major and eight minor officially recognized cat islands where the cats swarm in a tide around the residents and the growing numbers of tourists who come to hang out with cats.

This satisfies the very real desire to 猫を抱きしめる, Neko o dakishimeru (cuddle a cat). The cats used to be working members of small fishing families in villages on islands. The cats were there to chase the rodents. But when fishing became big business the villages went into eclipse and the fisher folks retired. Most of the remaining residents are old villagers who now work for the cats and a brisk tourist trade has replaced the fishing. Fishing is hard dangerous work. Plus, you always smell like fish. Feeding cats seems like a good retirement package.


There is a dog culture in Japan as well though I know of no dog islands. There are stores that sell come pretty terrific costumes for dogs and cats.

Now I love my pets but I don’t feel the need to dress my cat as a school girl (though I can see the appeal). People in Japan lavish attention on their pets for all sorts of reasons one of which is surely sublimation over not having kids. Japan has such a low birth rate that adult diapers now outsell baby diapers.

One quirk of Japanese society is the practice of being buried or cremated with your pre (hopefully) deceased pet. In America we have 50 states and they all have differing laws about taking the dirt nap with your Doberman. Some states are a hard ‘no go’ for any form of mutual internment. Others permit you to be buried in a pet cemetery with Rover. Some religious cemeteries more or less guarantee a quick trip to the eternal flames of Hell if you are so much as accompanied by a gerbil.

Of course one way around these Byzantine laws is to eat your pet just prior to kicking the bucket (in England they say ‘popped your clogs’) though this is not really practical. In California it is not legal to bury your dog in your yard. There is no law preventing you from just placing your dog in your woods but you can’t cover it. A horse I’m allowed to bury. Also I believe one can bury an elephant on one’s property if it at least ¼ mile from other properties. But a teacup Chihuahua, no.

In Japan some folks adopted pet robots. The Sony AIBO became a companion to many old folks and when they broke down and Sony discontinued manufacture Sony also stopped repairing them. There are a dwindling number of third party repair shops but when the AIBO is beyond the ‘life saving’ measures available some owners opt for a Shinto funeral for them. This isn’t a problem in Illinois because the Illinois legislature banned the sale of the ARBO because of the robot’s primitive facial recognition ability. God forbid this toy would recognize your face and send that data to the Russians.

He says, “I’m hella cute.” I think AIBO is right when he says, “My life is kinda crazy.”

Or if you want a real dog there are puppy vending machines in Japan.

I’m not sure if there are robots or not

And you might think the Japanese are crazy as well and that these folks have lost their marbles. But one person’s crazy is another person’s perfectly reasonable, like a sporting event where you can gobble a deep fried Snickers Bar and guzzle a 128 oz. Mt. Dew while rooting for your monster truck.

This makes me realize I could be buried in my monster truck or perhaps a BMW. Being buried in your car is a not uncommon occurrence. If your dead dog happened to be in the back seat who’s to complain?

And this is in Singapore!

All this makes cat ladies on obscure islands in Japan seem downright tame. “Here, kitty”

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