On the tiny island of Ainoshima off the coast of Fukuoka City live about 270 residents and 100 cats in a unique and fascinating way.
Most of the cats are feral and belong to a colony. You can see tom cats fighting in turf wars and wooing tabby cats, happy couples dating, and moms taking care of their kitties.
They survive on their own outdoors, helping each other in a colony. Local fishemen give the cats fish that cannot be sold, but basically, hunt by themselves. Residents leave them alone to live freely and naturally as feral cats.
Nonetheless, most of the cats on the island are friendly and not fearful of humans as if they recognise residents as equal partners or friends to coexist with. When you read a book, sitting on the embankment facing the sea under the blue sky, you may find a couple of adorable kitties come and sit beside you and start napping. Or when you stop on a street, you may find a cat wind around your feet.
Ainoshima Island is an ideal place for cat lovers who want to play with cats but also observe their natural world.
Please note that when visiting, please respect the locals' way of life and refrain from feeding cats as it could affect the local ecosystem.
Take the ￥100 community bus from JR Fukkodai-mae Station on the JR Kagoshima Main Line to Shingu Port. The ferry to Ainoshima Island takes about 20 minutes.