Why are there so many cats in Enoshima?

Kanto Tour Enoshima 2019.06.06
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Enoshima, an island with many faces. This time focusing on a specific animal that live on the island. Cats! Enoshima is a cat lovers' heaven closest to Tokyo.

Cats! Cats!! Cats!!!

Do you love cats? I do!
For those cat lovers out there, Enoshima is definitely the closest island to visit from Tokyo.
Let us give you a brief overview of the island.
  • The bronze gate "Sekido no Torii"(青銅の鳥居). First built in 1747.
  • The Enoshima Shrine (江島神社 辺津宮). The closest shrine to the bridge entering the island.

Enoshima (江ノ島)

An island only a short distance away from the mainland of Japan, off the Shonan coast, in Kanagawa. An hour and a half to get to from Tokyo station by public transport.
The island is only 0.41 km² wide and holds a population of 367 people.
  • So, what’s so special about this tiny island?
    So, what’s so special about this tiny island?
    The island is famous for its whitebait fishery, along with octopus and many other fish. (← Scroll down in the linked page to read about the island's delicious “shirasu-don” and “tako-senbei”.)

    The sunset by the beach is another view that you don’t want to miss if you’re there.

But… Cats!

The island is famous for the number of cats.
  • A cat reflecting on its own life while taking a nap...?
  • A cat on a rack pointing out directions for the tourists with its tail...?
  • A cat searching around for the "fish of the day"...?
Why are there so many cats on the island?
Well, we reckon that it’s due to the following 3 reasons.
 

1. There’s plenty of fish!

​As we’ve mentioned earlier, the island is famous for its fishery, so there seems to be plenty of food for the cats to live on.
  • Fresh Sashimi (刺身)
  • The famous "Shirasu Don"(しらす丼)!

2. The island is a sacred place.

The island has 4 main Shinto shrines (the main one being Enoshima Shrine), with some consisting of a few smaller seperated shrines. Since Shinto, just like many other religions, considers the killing of a living being a sin, the cats don’t get exterminated.

3. The people living on this island are kind.

The people on the island care enough for the cats that they not only don’t mind having cats around, but they all take care of them as a part of the community.
So, if you’re a cat lover like us, take some time to relax and sit down with a cat that you find on the island, and watch the sun go down together.

We’ve been working on many articles on Enoshima and the surrounding area lately. If you're interested in learning more, find detailed information here:
1. Kamakura and the “Kamakura Kokomae Station” -  Where the huge Buddha statue sits, and where the famous railway crossing from the anime/manga Slam Dunk can be found.
2. Island of Hydrangeas - Enoshima Island is also famous for its hydrangeas, and there are many locations nearby to see these lovely plants.
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