There are numbers of islands called “a cat island” in Japan.
A cat island are usually an island that became a sightseeing place because there are more population of cats than that of human, due to some circumstances.
What we introduce this time is “AinoShima”, a cat island of Kitakyushu City, Fukuoka Prefecture.
Why don’t you spend your happy holiday slowly with cats living on the island that is possible for a day-trip from Hakata?
Note that Fukuoka has two cat islands and both name are “AinoShima”, but different spell in Japanese.
Go To AinoShima Island From a Ferry Terminal Nearby JR Kokura station
It takes about one and half hours from Hakata to Kokura station by JR limited express.
Though there are some places to see such as Kokura Castle, let’s go toward to the north exit that is the opposite side of such places, and walk toward Kokura port.
Although a boarding point of the ferry going to AinoShima is small, there are many signs that show the place everywhere.
There is no parking attached, so if you come by car, please park nearby parking spaces.
There is a small waiting room that is also a ticketing station, and buy the ticket in advance.
A round trip from Kokura to AinoShima costs 800 Yen.
Let’s get on to a simple and modest ferry called “Kokura Go” together with many people going for fishing.
Here is the timetable of the ferry that I translated.
Asano 3-Chome 9-1, Kokura Kita Ward, Kitakyushu City
5 minutes walk from the north exit of JR Kokura station
No parking available
Usually WIFI is not available in isolated islands or isolated places, even at hotels or restaurants.
So, portble wifi is recommended.
Arrived at “AinoShima” Island!
It takes about 40 minute cruise from Kokura via Umashima Island.
Excited with salty scent, getting comfortable sea breeze, you will feel more and more excited about going to an isolated island.
A ferry terminal of AinoShima is in such atmosphere as in the photo.
So pastoral and modest that you will be healed.
AinoShima is a small isolated island of Kitakyushu City with circumference of about 13 km and areas of 0.68 square kilo meter.
Population of human is said a little less than 300.
Visitors are mainly for fishing, and you can also sea bath in summer.
It is a pastoral island, but the number of wild cats is said about 300 that is same as that of human population, so in recent years tourists have been increased with word-of mouth as “a cat island” and are increasing year by year.
Originally, as the reason for increased cats, because the main industry of the island is fishing, it is said that since the past time, residents on the island have taken good care of cats, which catch rats that make holes in fishing boats.
Here, There, and Everywhere Are Many Cats
As soon as you get off the boat, you will hear “meow” of calls of cats, and you will immediately be surrounded with many cats.
Every cat is plump and anyway very cute, and is very friendly.
When you notice, you find that you have spent much time at the terminal.
It takes about 40 minute by walk from the terminal of south of the island to the farthest north, and cats are mainly living around residential areas from the terminal to an elementary school.
There is no particular complicated road, and when you walk along toward the residential areas, you can see cats one after another.
There are posters that say “Please feed the cats here” in front of houses of island residents who are cooperative for feeding wild cats, and for those tourists who like to feed the cats, it is a manner to do so where such posters are put.
Cats also are gathering and staying around houses where the posters are, and when tourists stop by, there will be immediately many cats all around.
Only Few Road Signs
When you walk among residential houses playing with cats, you will see the tunnel as shown in the photo.
Passed the tunnel, you will see an elementary school.
When you go to the left just before the tunnel, you can go toward “AinoShima Toomi Bansho Hatabashira Dai (base stones of flags at a watchtower)” of the Prefectural designated cultural treasure, a historical site of the island.
When either way you go to, places where you can often see cats are gradually decreasing after walking for about 10 minutes.
If your purpose is just playing with cats, let’s walk around in the residential areas of about 30 minute by walk.
It takes about 10 minute by walk to the historical site from around the tunnel, and takes about 40 minutes to an observation spot.
As there is no public transportation on the island, it is an important point that you walk around thinking about your body power and necessary time to catch a ferry of going back.
Manner for Getting Along With Cute Cats
To AinoShima twice a week, there come some volunteers to see status of cats from the main land, and as we heard a story, they appeal strongly that “though it is good that tourists increase, please keep common manner”.
Originally, the island is very quiet and pastoral, and don’t forget that the island residents are living ordinary.
Don’t enter to private houses,
Don’t leave any rubbish
Don’t make loud noises and shouts even when you see cats,
Don’t feed cats where there is no poster that you can feed.
These are the basic sightseeing manners.
Please keep the common manners so that cats will not become hated on the island.
Please spend your relaxed time with cats with consideration of island residents.
Only love of island residents and consideration of tourists can make cats stay relaxed and at ease.
Convenient Information of the Island
There is no store or restaurant on the island, but there is some vending machines for drinks.
For those who think having a lunch on the island, please bring your food when leaving Kokura.
It is recommended to eat around the terminal not on roads of residential areas.
Also, as there is Minshuku (a private home providing beds) for fishing people, you can stay there.
For concerning the restroom status, please go to the restroom at Kokura first of all.
And then, there is one near a waiting room of the terminal at AinoShima island side, so you will be at ease if you go there before going for playing with cats after arrived at the island.
Please spend your healing holiday slowly on “AinoShima”, where you can go by a day-trip from Hakata!
A ferry between Kokura and AinoShima goes three round trips a day.
As the times are varied a bit depending on a season or a day of week, please check and confirm the times at official website.
Kitakyushu City Tosen Jigyosho (Ferry Boat Office)
Timetable of the ferry
Here is the timetable of the ferry that I translated from Japanese site
This was updated in 2019/12/27.