Sakushima Island in Aichi Prefecture, the location for “The Island of Cats“.
I’ve been wanting to go to this island for a long time, as it was featured in photo book of cats in the past!
I went to Cat Island over the 10-day Golden Week Holidays.
Access to Sakushima Island
Sakushima is a remote island located in Nishio City, Aichi Prefecture, and can be reached by boat from Isshiki Port in Nishio City.
The address of Isshiki Port is 176 Koyubunen Koto, Isshiki-cho, Nishio City.
Isshiki Port is close to the Fish Morning Market, and free parking is available in front of the market (You don’t have to use the morning market).
Next to the morning market is a fish and shellfish shopping and restaurant.
There is a “Isshiki Sakana Hiroba“, which seems to be quite busy on weekends.
There are seven ferry services a day, the earliest one leaving at 6:30 and arriving at Sakushima (East Port) at 7:00.
Here is the timetable of ferry and bus which I translated from Japanese site.
The boat seems to have a capacity of more than 100 people, so it doesn’t seem to be over capacity on a normal weekend.
However, I heard that it might be crowded during Golden Week holidays.
In fact, the boat was over capacity when I visited.
When that happens, there will be increase in the number of boats on the island.
Those who cross to the island by bus or train need to be careful (it’s a good idea to line up at the port a little early).
There are two boat docks on the island, West Port and East Port.
You can encounter cats in the villages around both ports.
It takes about 20 minutes to get from West Port to East Port on foot, and about 10 minutes by rented bicycle.
Cats around East Port of Sakushima
Since I stayed at a guest house in East Port, I got off at East Port (the last stop was East Port) and started to explore.
It was very windy, so I walked but couldn’t find the cat for the first hour or so.
After collecting information from the people of the island, I found that the cats on Sakushima seem to gather in a specific house.
In Sanagi Island(in Kagawa) and Manabe Island(in Okayama), if you stroll around the island, you’ll see many cats, but on Sakushima Island, things are a little different.
There are cats on the island, but you’ll almost always see them in yards where residents live.
They are quite close to their own cats.
It seems there are a lot of cases where they are being fed in the yard as shown in the picture.
A resident said:
I don’t have a cat, but the cats took up residence on their own while I was feeding them
I managed to get permission from the house where the cat is staying to start taking photos.
I couldn’t take pictures of the cats staying in the garden, so I took pictures of the cat playing in the garden quietly from a distance.
I was keenly aware of how lucky I was to have brought my telephoto lens.
Many of the houses have beautiful flowers growing in them, so you can take lots of pictures of flowers and cats.
There were still some small cats playing around, and I got some great shots of them.
One of the cats, who appeared in “The Island of Cats,” posed for a picture.
I heard that this cat was walking on his owner’s shoulder.
I took a picture of cat actually getting on the owner.
Foods and Guest Houses in East Port
I got the impression that there are a lot of guest houses and restaurants in Higashiko(East Port).
The sashimi set meal I had for lunch was freshly caught flounder, sea cucumbers, octopus, etc. and priced at 1,200 yen!
By the way, the guest house I stayed at was called Ichibei, and it was just under 8,000 yen for one night and two meals.
I ate a lot of seafood such as crab, octopus, sashimi and boiled fish.
The dish in the photo comes with a small boiled octopus and clams.
The bike rentals were free and they kept our luggage at times other than check in and check out.
Cats around Sakushima West Port
The area around West port is dotted with art galleries such as “Ohirune House” and stylish cafes that have been renovated from old houses, and it’s a bit of a fashionable town.
Photo above is the “Ohirune House”.
It looks nice if you take a nap while listening to the sound of the ocean.
Like at East Port, I didn’t see any cats walking around the town or the port area, but rather they seemed to be hanging out in private house’s yards or near the entrance.
You can’t go into private house’s yards to take photos without permission, so I had to ask permission from the owners of private homes to take photos here as well.
There was a young cat who loved to play.
I wanted to keep photographing him because his every gesture was so cute, but he still went into private house’s yards.
Feeling the frustration of not being able to shoot as much as I would like, I tried to look for cats again.
It’s not that there are no cats in town.
However, the cats you see occasionally are wary and you can’t approach them easily.
The friendly cats go into private house’s.
It’s a little different from Sanyu Island and Manabe Island, where many cats don’t go into houses.
The picture is near the harbor where the fishermen’s boats dock in the west harbor. I expected to see a cat holding a fish, but I could not find the cat itself. Too bad.
Summary of Cats in Sakushima
Sakushima Island is a little different from the other cat islands.
There are cats in both the east and west ports, but most of them are in private house’s yard or front door, so it can be difficult to find them (if you can’t find them, you can ask the residents to help).
It is safer to ask permission from the people living in the house or the neighbors before taking photos.
As you can’t go into someone’s yard or property, it’s best to bring a telephoto lens with you.
It can be very crowded on holidays, so if the boat is full, line up early at the pier.
Lastly, the most friendly cat in a village in East Port.